Three-fer Thursday post 2: Beef & barley stew

This recipe started as one that came with my crockpot and has evolved each time I have made it. When I started, there was no barley, a thinner broth, and not a whole lot of seasoning. It was a decent base, but it needed MORE. I’ve been experimenting on my husband and best friend (both hungry 23 year old guys) and I think I have finally figured out how I like it best. No pictures, but I’ll give you my instructions and ingredients how I like it best!

Beef & barley stew
1 package stew beef (about 1.5 lbs), thawed
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup barley
4 white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
5-6 baby carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 box beef broth (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper, spices

Cut stew beef into approximate 1″ cubes. Some can be bigger or smaller, it’s not really a big deal. Brown your beef if desired. I personally dislike the extra step, especially in the morning when I’m trying to throw it all together as I run out the door, but it does add some extra flavor. Add beef to bottom of crock. Sprinkle flour over beef. Toss to coat (I use my hands! It’s easier). Add heaping 3/4 cup of barley, potatoes, vegetables, and garlic. Pour in beef broth and Worcestershire sauce, stirring after. Add salt, pepper and spices and stir again. I use a high-quality Italian seasoning, although I can’t imagine too many spices would be bad in it. Measuring spices isn’t something I do. Just go with what feels right, and you can always add more seasoning when serving. Cook on high for 5-7 hours or low for 8-10 hours, until meat is tender. Your kitchen will smell amazing. After the first two hours you can stir the stew occasionally, but resist the urge to open the lid and bathe in it.
Fast forward 8 hours.
This is not a brothy stew. The barley and potatoes soak up a lot of the moisture, which is just fine with my husband. But man, is it tasty. This stew gives us about 6 servings- firsts and seconds on the night of, and one or two smaller servings each for leftovers. The liquid gets soaked up even more in the fridge, but the favors are all still there and it is still delicious.

This stew takes about a half hour to prepare, 8 hours to cook, and is gone within two days or less, depending on how many guests we have. This recipe is a total winner for people who love their crockpot and leftovers!

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