Sunday Special

Two days ago, it was pushing 60 degrees here. Today, we're putting on a fire and waiting for overnight snow. So in that spirit of winter that just won't end, I'm going to give you my recipe for a great, easy, warm-you-up beef stew. Technically, it's not my recipe- it's my mother-in-law's (and she may have gotten it out of some cookbook or magazine, but I don't know that to cite it). She is a great cook. Whenever we visit I always end up coming home with a recipe or two, particularly desserts (more on that to come). This is a great recipe because it's one pot, everything is rough chop, there's little muss, little fuss, and it can even be done in the slow cooker if you have one. It comes out thick and rich, unlike all the other stew recipes I've tried. I'll give you the basic recipe and then give you some options at the end.

Beef and Barley Stew

2 1/2 lbs. stew meat or beef chuck cut into small chunks
3 T flour
1 tsp pepper
Salt or garlic salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil (or other oil)
4-5 petite red potatoes rinsed and cut into chunks
1 large onion rinsed and cut into quarters
4 ribs celery rinsed and cut into pieces
8 ounces carrots cut into chunks
1-32 oz box beef broth or 4 cups water and 4 tsp. beef boullion
1-14.5 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 cup quick-cooking pearl barley (in the rice aisle)

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat the beef chunks in the flour/pepper/salt mixture and cook in a dutch oven or other large pot in the oil over medium-high heat until browned. Add all the other ingredients except for the barley, cover the dutch oven and put it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Add the barley (it will still look runny at this point) and cook for another 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

It's as easy as that! If you are a slow cooker person, follow the recipe- browing the meat on the stove first- then instead of adding everything and putting it in the oven, put the meat and everything else but the barley in the slow cooker and cook 4-6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. About an hour before serving, add the barley and let that cook for an hour (until barley is tender). Remove the bay leaf before serving. I haven't tried it in the slow cooker, so if anyone does, let me know how it comes out!

Helpful hints and options: I mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a Ziploc bag, add the beef, and shake it up to coat it. Then you can just pour it into the pot. To make it even easier, I use baby carrots, which means no peeling and no chopping. I just throw them in whole and they get soft enough to cut with a fork. Instead of red potatoes I usually use 2 russet potatoes because that's what we have hanging around most often. I also rough chop mushrooms and add those, and throw in some frozen corn and peas. The more veggies I can cram in, the better. I do check the stew as it's cooking, giving it a stir, and adding some water or broth if it looks like it's drying out.

We always have leftovers with this meal, and it's even better the second time around. Give it a try on any busy day when you need to get a meal together but don't have a lot of time to spend on it.


  1. Yum, this looks delish! That warm weather was a tease last week! We are waiting on snow here too! I can't wait for winter to be over!

  2. It looks like it's going to be just enough to have to shovel. Yippee!