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Beef Barley Vegetable Stew

September 7, 2009

So, it’s not quite autumn yet, but we’re starting to feel the seasonal transition here in the Northeast. It still gets quite warm during the day (it got up to nearly 90 two days ago), but the evenings are getting much cooler. The past few days have been beautiful. No rain, low humidity, lots of sunshine, but not too hot and cool in the shade with liberal cool breezes. Part of me wishes the whole summer could have been like this! It makes me excited for a longer fall season than back home, though.

The grocery stores and farm markets reflect the season, too. I went to Adams early on Saturday morning and stocked up on produce. I got local long john plums, local nectarines, local greenleaf lettuce, a small green cabbage (also local), scallions, and local gingergold apples. I also picked up a smoked turkey leg and some bacon. I’ve been in a stew-making mood. No ham hocks were available, though. Apparently around here ham hocks are considered “Southern” food and are hard to find. But I want one to make split pea soup!

At any rate, with all these veggies on hand and some frozen round steak in the freezer that needed eating and some pearled barley lying around on hand, I just had to make beef barley vegetable soup.

Beef Barley Vegetable Stew:

4 small round steaks, cubed
1/2 a large white onion, roughly sliced/chopped
a glug of olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4-6 cups water (enough to cover vegetables)
3/4 cup pearled barley
2 cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 very large carrot, peeled & thickly sliced
4 medium red potatoes cut into bite-sized chunks
1/4 a small cabbage, cut in half crosswise and thinly sliced
2-4 stalks celery, sliced
a few celery leaves, finely chopped
1-2 cups frozen corn (I kind of just dumped – it ended up being a little less than half of a bag)
salt & pepper to taste

In a large (4 quart or larger) heavy-bottomed stock pot, brown steak & onions & garlic powder in olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are just soft and the meat is browned, but not dry. Add water, vegetables, and barley and bring to a boil. Boil for appx. 5 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender and easily pierced with a fork. Add salt & pepper and simmer for 10-20 minutes. Serve hot with fresh french or crusty sourdough bread.

WARNING! This recipe makes nearly four quarts of stew, so it’s great for a crowd. Halve it to serve 4-6 people a normal meal.

I made this on Saturday and it was a lovely. Be careful with the garlic powder, though. I put in quite a bit, and a lot of black pepper, too, so it ended up with more heat than I would have liked. I ended up giving a 9″ casserole nearly full of it to some bachelor friends, and we still have a 9×13″ casserole of it at home. So I’m not kidding about that warning! It would, however, be a good recipe for a crowd. You could also add other veggies like green beans, peas, spinach or kale, zucchini and/or summer squash, parsnips (though they are not quite in season yet), fresh garlic, etc. Add the green beans, peas, and squashes AFTER you reduce the heat to simmer or they will overcook (unless, of course, you like them that way).

Anywho, now the boy and I are off for a rejuvenating walk since we slept in this morning and had store-bought cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Well, after we finish watching NCIS and he fixes the Shark vacuum, anyway.  : D

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