The chill and scent of the air portended an approaching snowstorm. We had plenty of vegetables in the house (remains from a previous night's Rosemary Root Veggie Pot Pie), and picked up some beef stew meat at the store. Apparently, judging from our recent posts, it's soup-n-stew week here at A Couple in the Kitchen. We suppose there are worse things.
In the hopes of making our beef stew a bit healthier and heartier, we added some barley. A little too much, it turns out. The barley soaked up most of the liquid, giving it more of a risotto-like texture than a stew, which Chris actually preferred. Therefore, the recipe below explains what we did. If you like yours a bit more stew-y, either add more liquid or less barley. Besides that, we loved the tenderness of the beef and the flavors in this stew. The addition of a little balsamic vinegar right before serving gave it a nice zing!
1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and diced
1 onion, chopped
2 slalks celery, diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup uncooked barley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Dredge the beef pieces in flour until lightly coated, shaking off excess. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large stockpot and, in small batches, brown the beef on all sides. Set aside. Deglaze the pot with a bit of wine or broth. Heat the second tablespoon of oil in the pot and add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic. Cook for five minutes, until onions are translucent and start to soften. Stir in the diced tomatoes and cook another minute. Return the beef to the pot. Add the water, wine, broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. The reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for one hour. Add the barley, cover and simmer for an additional 45 minutes, until barley is to desired tenderness. Discard bay leaves and stir in balsamic vinegar right before serving.