Beef & Barley Stew

Being the farmer’s daughter has its perks. My dad raises grass fed beef, so my freezer is often loaded with the best ground beef, roasts, and even a few steaks (if I can get my hands on a filet mignon, I’m a happy gal). I grilled every chance I got this past summer. That, combined with the fact that I haven’t been back home to Kansas in a few months (sorry family!) means that my meat supply is seriously dwindling.

When I did my regularly scheduled freezer search to plan dinners for the week, I found the short ribs, roasts, and cubed stew meat that I had been squirreling away for when the weather turned chilly. Since it basically snowed the entire last week of October, I felt like a slow-cooked barley stew was totally deserved.

Although I hadn’t ever attempted to put barley in the slow cooker, this came together super easily. It only took a few hours for the grains to soften and the meat to be perfectly cooked, tender but not shred-y. I used my old trick of adding honey along with the crushed tomatoes to help minimize the flavor of canned-ness (you know what I mean). With all the hearty flavors involved, this stew really benefits from the splash of red wine vinegar and fresh parsley at the end—so don’t skip ’em!

Beef & Barley Stew Recipe

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil (use only if following oven method)
  • 1 lb. cubed beef stew meat
  • 1 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (or water)
  • Salt & pepper, to season
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Chopped parsley, to garnish

Preparation

To make in a slow cooker:

  1. Add stew meat*, barley, vegetables, garlic, canned tomatoes, paprika, herbs, and honey to slow cooker. Pour stock over and season generously with salt & pepper. Stir to combine.
  2. Cook until barley is softened and stew meat is tender, about 2 to 3 hours on high or 5 to 6 hours on low.
  3. Finish the stew with a small splash of red wine vinegar (this helps brighten up all the flavors). Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.

To make in the oven:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat canola oil in a Dutch oven or large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Add stew meat in an single layer (cook in batches if needed to avoid overcrowding) and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per side.
  2. Remove stew meat from pot and set on a plate. Add vegetables and garlic and saute until beginning to soften and brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add barley, tomatoes, honey, paprika, herbs, and stock. Season generously with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring to combine.
  4. Cover pot and place in oven. Cook until barley is softened and meat is tender, about 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Finish the stew with a small splash of red wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.

Notes

*For extra flavor, sear the stew meat as directed in Step 1 of the oven method before adding to the slow cooker.

This recipe is also published on redgerfarms.com, where my family sells all natural grass fed beef.