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.


My Go-To Grilled Bok Choy with Miso Lemon Dressing

I know: autumn is happening, folks. I’m the first one to light up a cider-scented candle and roast some delicata squash, but I’m also going to be rolling out the grill and planning cookouts with friends until we’re digging out the winter coats.

Getting together with people and sitting in a rotating list of backyards while we’ve got the grill loaded with whatever looked good at the grocery store or farmers market is my ideal warm-weather weekend plan. I’m game to go all out for these too: I’ll spend a few days prepping a couple of different dishes, maybe baking or marinating or fermenting. But if I haven’t had the time or if we need a last minute veg, you know I’ve got a go-to: grilled bok choy with a miso lemon dressing.

Yeah, it leans on eastern Asian flavors (it came out of many a gochujang-fueled menu), but it could easily pair up with a golden roasted chicken, braised beef, or flash-grilled pork chops. The dressing only takes a few minutes to pull together and could easily be made a week ahead of time. The bok choy then just needs few minutes on the grill right before dinnertime to char the leaves and soften the middle. Chop it into chunks before dressing or, if you’ve gotten the small ones, let people help themselves to a whole baby bok choy.

I always get requests for the recipe, and until now, I’ve always said to just “grate ginger and garlic until it feels like too much, then add in a big squeeze of lemon juice, mirin, and sesame seeds, plus a big heaping spoonful of miso.” You can totally do that, but if you need more structure—I got you. Here are the full deets:

Grilled Bok Choy with Miso Lemon Dressing

Recipe Inspiration: Fine Cooking’s Baby Bok Choy with Warm Miso Dressing
Makes 3 lb. bok choy, about 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. grated garlic (about 5 cloves)
  • ½ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. white or red miso
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • Up to 3 lb. bok choy (any size works, but I prefer small baby bok choy)

Preparation

  1. Combine canola oil, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic in a small pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until very aromatic and just starting to brown, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add mirin, lemon juice, miso, and sesame seeds and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until thickened slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use. Dressing can be made several days ahead.
  4. Preheat a grill for even, medium-high heat and oil grates. Add bok choy and cook until tips of leaves are beginning to char, about 2 minutes for small heads and 3 to 4 minutes for larger heads.
  5. Flip and continue cooking until other side is beginning to char on top and base of the bok choy is beginning to soften.
  6. Remove from grill, cut off base, and chop if desired. Drizzle with dressing and serve warm.