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Beef and Barley Stew

Hooray for the humble slow cooker; he toils quietly in my kitchen all day allowing me to work, run errands or simply laze about the house. In March, that miserable will the winter ever end month, the slow cooker becomes my nearest and dearest kitchen appliance by making chilies, soups and stews. My slow cooker is particularly fabulous because it has a sear function which means I can sear my meat in the same device I slow cook in, saving me from using another dish.

This time, I craved that earthy, filling classic; beef and barley stew. Chuck beef, mushrooms, carrots, celery, potatoes, onion, garlic and barley; healthy, filling and absolutely delicious. I serve it with crusty bread rolls generously slathered with butter, for an extra carb explosion. Butter is, of course, always invited to my dinners.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
8 ounces of sliced cremini mushrooms
8 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch  slices along the bias
3 stalks of celery, chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, minced
4 large waxy yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large sweet onion, chopped
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 cup red wine
4 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon coarse ground mustard
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup pearl barley
snipped scallions, for garnish

Toss the beef in the flour to coat; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add the oil to your slow cooker and choose the sear function (or do this step in a skillet on the stovetop). Sear the beef on all sides. 

Add the mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic, potatoes, onion, chicken broth, wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, bay leaf and barley; stir well to combine. Cover and cook on high for4-6 hours, or on low for 8-10. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve in generously large bowls topped with fresh scallions. And a bread roll. Or two. Pass the butter?


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