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Tailgaters’ Favorite Stew

Updated February 23, 2016
(1 Votes)

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This image courtesy of JosephDeLeo.cookstr.com

I can’t imagine anything more appealing on a blustery day than a big serving of this ambrosial stew. It’s great for potlucks and outdoor get-togethers because it’s easily transportable and there is nothing to add.

Works best in a large (minimum 5-quart) slow cooker.

The orange zest and juice add wonderful depth to this stew.

Use the variety of barley you prefer — pearled, pot or whole. Whole (also known as hulled) barley is the most nutritious form of the grain.

Serves6 to 8

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostModerate

Easy

Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentcrock pot

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, meaty, rich, savory, winey

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon (about 4 oz/125 g)
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) cracked black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs ( 1 kg) stewing beef, trimmed, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and patted dry
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) freshly grated nutmeg
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) barley (see Notes) rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups (500 ml) beef stock
  • 1 cup (250 ml) dry red wine
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 1 can (5½ oz/156 ml) tomato paste

Instructions

In a skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and crumble. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Drain off all but 2 tbsp (25 ml) fat from pan, reserving remainder.

On a plate, combine flour, salt, peppercorns and cayenne. Dredge beef in mixture until coated, discarding any excess. Add beef to pan, in batches, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes per batch, adding more bacon drippings between batches if necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware as completed.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions, celery and carrots to pan and cook, stirring, until carrots are softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, nutmeg and orange zest; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add barley, stock, wine, water, tomato paste and orange juice; bring to a boil. Transfer to stoneware and stir well.

4. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until beef is tender. Discard bay leaves. Stir in reserved bacon.

VARIATION

Substitute wheat, spelt or Kamut berries for the barley.

MAKE AHEAD

Complete Step 3, heating 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil in pan before softening the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To cook, sauté the bacon and brown the beef. Combine with vegetable mixture and continue with Step 4.

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I love this stew, and wouldn't change a thing. I would be wary of replacing barley with potatoes. I suspect it would be a watery stew as a result, since the barley will absorb a fair bit of liquid. Also, the barley is very forgiving of differing cook times, or of being left on the warm setting. I hate soggy, overcooked potatoes. Plus, the barley is wonderfully chewy. This is like a heartier version of beef and barley soup - wonderful on a cold day!

Loved the addition of orange zest and juice, but found the amount of barley overwhelming. Next time I'll substitute potatoes, or a can of baked beans.

Would it be OK to substitute the barley with potatoes?

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