Beef, Barley, and Vegetable Stew

Has the new year been cold enough for you? We haven't even gotten through the first full week of January and this is probably getting close to one of the coldest winters on record.

This early in the year and this early into winter, I actually don't mind the cold. Ask me again at the end of February, and I might tell you something different.  It did give me that rare chance to bring out the old flannel nightgown last night along with that stare from my husband that says "you're wearing that". And, of course there is my old granny cardigan I dug out from my closet that has stayed with me from 1993. They are so warm and cozy and I rarely get a valid reason for bringing them both out of hiding.

In any case, I doubt anyone is really looking at my wardrobe today (did I mention the knit toboggan I wore to cover my head this morning? What a sight!). While walking around in my fuzzy socks this morning, I found that the pipes were frozen and I couldn't get hot water out of the faucet. And, they still are at 4 in the afternoon.  The kids whined about going out in the cold to school.  And while they whined and Gary told them stories about walking two miles in any kind of weather back in his day, I actually saw other kids walking to school in shorts. It said 1 degree...1 degree!!! my car this morning and these kids were wearing shorts. I would say what is wrong with them, but really we know we should say what is wrong with the parents. Hrmph!

Winter, winter, winter.  What better way to stay indoors and enjoy it from afar than to make a nice, hearty beef stew.  How do you like that picture? Nice crusty bread with creamy butter, some kalamata olives, beef stew, and red wine. It warms you up just looking at it, doesn't it? You can't imagine (or maybe you can) how good our house smelled all day.

The recipe is a bit time intensive in total cooking time (3 hours total), but the actual work is minimal. So worth it though.  With all of the cooking time, it softened the meat perfectly. It simply shreds apart in your mouth.  With lots of fabulous vegetables, a hearty broth, and barley you will feel healthy and easily full after enjoying this delicious stew.

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3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 to 1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat

5 1/2 cups beef broth

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch slices

2 celery stalks, sliced into 1/2 inch slices

1 parsnip, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch slices

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

4 ounces white mushrooms, quartered

1 Tablespoon Red Wine

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup pearl barley




1. In a large stockpot, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season stew meat with salt and pepper.  Brown pieces of stew meat in batches without crowding them together in order to make sure they get browned on all sides.  Set each batch aside on a paper towel. If you need more olive oil for the multiple batches of meat, add up to 1 additional tablespoon.

2.  In same stockpot, add 5 1/2 cups beef broth, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon fish sauce and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Once it comes to a simmer, add the meat back to the pot.  Cover and lower the temperature to medium-low.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours.

3.  While the beef is simmering in the broth, it's time to prepare the vegetables.  In a large saute pan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute the carrots, celery, parsnip, and onion until they soften a bit, about 5 minutes.  If the pot of broth and beef are ready, add the veggies to the pot. Otherwise, set aside in a bowl.

My two carrot thiefs

4. Using the same saute pan, add 1 Tablespoon of red wine and swish it around to coat the pan.  Add the chopped mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper (enough to season).  Saute for 1 full minute.  Add to stockpot when ready.

5.  Add bay leaves and 1/2 cup barley to the stew mixture and give it all a big stir.  You may add more salt and pepper at this point, depending on taste preference. Cover and cook at a simmer for an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours.