Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple Classic Beef Stew.

I'm not much of a cook. I like to bake, but cooking is a bit frustrating because I am not very inventive... I like the same tastes over and over again, I don't add anything or tweak the recipe! So I love it when I finally get something right. 

That said, this recipe for Beef Stew was impossible for me to find. I really wanted classic southern beef stew... like the taste of biting into a fresh roast. Everything I searched for was too thick, too runny, had weird stuff like thyme in it, used red wine, used mushrooms (ew), and other yuck things. In the end, I mixed Rob's mom's, my Nana's, and the Pioneer Woman's recipes to get our favorite one. This is SIMPLE beef stew. It has simple everyday ingredients so it's easy, and it's filling to boot. One recipe makes about 4 servings. More if you are dainty eaters. Rob and I are two helpings kinda people though... I say that as I jiggle dorito belly.

- Half a small videlia onion. Or "sweet yellow onion" if your grocery is politically correct.  
- carrots, the fresh baby kind. Half a small bag maybe?
- about 2 pounds of roast meat. Can be pre-cubed, rump roast, chuck roast, etc. 
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 beef bouillon cubes
- 3/4 cup pearled barley (makes it hearty, you can add more of less, won't affect the flavor) It's in the same aisle as bags of pinto beans, split peas, etc.
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- dash of sugar
- copious amounts of salt

Cook in a covered pan/dutch oven/3qt pot on medium. The whole stew takes about 2-3 hours to get done. Only 20 mins of prep time though, the rest is just leaving it to simmer on the stove (or crock pot). 

I'm not your doctor. Don't fuss if salt is bad for you. I'm sure crack is worse ;)

Okay so brown your onions in a 3 qt saucepan with the canola oil. If you're making it with veggies like carrots, add those in right now too. I didn't have carrots when I made this and I didn't feel like running to the store. It tastes fine without it. 

While that is browning, slice up your beef into tiiiiny little cubes. Like so:

Then once the onions are floppy and brown, add in your beef and the teaspoon of flour and brown that as well. Don't worry about the insides of the beef, just get the outsides brown.  At this point dump in a few teaspoons of salt.

While that is browning, start preparing your bouillon cubes per the instructions on your bouillon package. For mine, 1 cup of boiling water + 1 cube = 1 cup beef broth. You need 3, so add 3 cubes to 3 cups of boiling water.

Watch the cubes fizzle as they dissolve. YAY bubbles!!

 Okay. The cubed beef should be browned now so dump in the broth now.

Stir that up and keep it boiling. Pour in another few teaspoons of salt. I don't measure the salt at all honestly, I just dump until I start to worry about diabetes. Now it is time for the barley. You need pearled barley. It's like $1.50 for a bag that will last you 6 stews. Cheap.

Scoop up 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of it and pour it in the saucepan.

Add more salt. You think I'm kidding with the salt? It is vital. Now your stew should be looking like this with the pearled barley all sunk down to the bottom. It will rise as it fattens up and turns soft.

Now we add the garlic powder. Taste the pot liquor to see how it's going after the garlic has been added. Does it need more salt? Most likely it does. Muahaha. It also needs something else...

 Just a pinch though!!! Less than 1/4 teaspoon. It helps make the pepper, salt, and garlic stand out.

Let the whole pot simmer for a few hours now.

Midway along you might need to add another cube. I usually do. I just plop the cube in the stew mix at this point though. It doesn't need any more liquid! You're trying to get it to thicken up as it boils over time.

When it looks good and thick to your liking and the pearled barley is swollen and floating, try out the beef cubes. Make sure they're cooked inside to your satisfaction.

 Now you can nom it all gone! Yummmm. Nothing better on cold nights... except chili. And since it doesn't have a bunch of weird ingredients you're pretty much SURE that any guests will like it as well. Take it from me, your guests don't want rosemary and thyme in their food if they're southern. Blergh. My recipe is simply the best ;)

Lemme know if you try it out!

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  1. Looks yummy, I am so trying this next week. I've never cooked barley before. Is it kind of similar to rice?

  2. This looks the best! A little sugar works well in all sorts of food, soup usually is improved though I hadn't realised it is because it brings out the other flavours, makes sense! I like the carrot hint, that way you get all the veggy goodies too, I used to grate carrots into meat when I had a veggy resistant small child.


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