Fall has certainly arrived. It’s my favorite time of year… the air is crisp, cozy knit sweaters have been pulled from dresser drawers and Sundays just beg for something to be bubbling away on the stove. Now, I am not much of a stew maven, but this recipe seemed too irresistible to pass up and WOW was I ever right. Having recently discovered the joy of barley with all its nutty flavor, this stew had all the makings of a delicious dinner. I added some carrots (because really, is it soup without carrots?) for color and bite. The crusty bread is a must if you want to sop up all the beefy goodness at the bottom of your bowl. Nom.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you take a peek after an hour or so. The stew is so fragrant, my entire apartment smelled wonderfully of slow cooked hearty meat and vegetables.
Makes 6-8 servings
2 pounds chuck or round beef roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium onions, diced
8-10 ounces mushrooms (1 package)
3 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup barley
salt and pepper
Film the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil and set over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Working in batches, add a single layer of meat to the bottom of the pan. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes until the cubes loosen and are seared golden brown. Flip the cubes and sear the other sides. When all sides are seared, remove the meat to a clean bowl or plate. Sear the remaining meat in batches. If there is any liquid in the pot after the last batch is finished, pour it over the meat.
Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in the pan and cook the onions with a pinch of salt until they are translucent and brown around the edges. Add the mushrooms and another pinch of salt, and cook until they have released all the moisture and have turned golden-brown. Add the celery and carrots and cook until just softened.
Clear a space in the middle of the vegetables and sauté the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the thyme and bay leaf, and stir all the seasonings into the vegetables.
Pour the wine into the pan to deglaze, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the wine bubbles. Let the wine reduce down until most of it has evaporated or been absorbed by the veggies.
Add the meat and any drippings back to the pot. Pour in the stocks and top with enough water to cover the meat and veggies (about a half an inch). Add a pinch of fresh ground black pepper. Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low.
Cover the pot and let it simmer for 1 hour. Add the barley and cook for another hour or so until the barley is cooked and the meat is almost falling apart . Check by piercing with a fork. The meat should flake about with pressure. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as desired.
Serve in individual bowls with a piece of crusty bread to sop up the broth. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for one week.