This is a hearty and satisfying one-pot meal. The barley soaks up the flavorful cooking broth and thickens the stew as the whole dish cooks. If you don't have double concentrated tomato paste, substitute 3 tablespoons regular tomato paste. Barley usually can be found in the same section of the supermarket as the dried beans and lentils.
Servings: 8 - 10
- 4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium (4 ounces) onion, finely diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1/2 pound white or button mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste
- 3 pounds stewing beef, preferably chuck, trimmed of visible fat and cut into bite-size pieces
- 4 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 cup barley (not quick-cooking)
In a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and just start to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the tomato paste.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add enough of the beef cubes to fill the pan comfortably without crowding the pieces. Brown the meat, turning at least once, 4 to 5 minutes total, then transfer to a large bowl. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining pieces, adding more oil if needed.
In the same pan used to brown the meat, increase the heat to high. Add 1 cup of the water to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits of meat stuck to the pan. Transfer this mixture, along with the browned meat and its accumulated juices, to the pot with the vegetables. Add the bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Add the beef broth and the remaining 3 cups of water to more than cover the meat. The mixture should look soupy. Bring the broth to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently, uncovered, for 1 3/4 hours.
Add the barley, stirring to combine, until it is heated through. Let the stew cook, uncovered, until the meat is tender and the barley is cooked, 45 to 60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bay leaves.
Serve hot, or let cool completely, then cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If reheating, it may be necessary to thin the stew with some water.
Adapted from former Food section recipe editor Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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