Sunday, July 28, 2013

Slow cooker beef with mushrooms and barley

On Sundays, I like to cook a nice meal for dinner and have leftovers for the week, so the dish needs to be something which leftovers will work. Some dishes just don't lend itself well to leftovers.

Anyway, this Sunday, I really, really wanted to do a slow cook meal and I thought beef would be nice, since The Boy likes beef and because I don't eat much red meat, he doesn't get much beef at home.

I pulled out my slow cooker cookbook, Essentials of Slow Cooking. I actually was looking for a different cookbook but couldn't find it. I think we may have taken it up to The House and left it there accidentally, but now we won't know till we get up there again and check.

I flipped through the beef section of the cookbook and found the Beef with Mushrooms and Barley recipe and decided that that was what I wanted to make for tonight's dinner. I like mushrooms and I like barley.

Here's the recipe:

  • 30g dried mushrooms such as porcini
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1kg beed chuck, cut into 2 inch / 5cm pieces
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 500g fresh mushrooms, preferably cremini, brushed clean, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • 2 cups beef broth / stock
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

  • Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and add 2 cups boiling water. Let soak for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth (muslin) placed over a bowl. Rinse the mushrooms under cold running water and finely chop. Set the mushrooms and soaking liquid aside.
  • In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef and cook, turning frequently, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the onion to the pan and saute over medium-high heat until softened, 3 - 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rehydrated mushrooms. Add the fresh mushrooms and saute over medium heat until they start to brown and release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrom soaking liquid and broth.
  • OVEN: preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Transfer the beef to a Dutch oven. Add the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the beef is tender, about 2 hours. Uncover and stir in the barley and 1 cup of water. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Uncover and stir in carrots and parsnips. Cover and cook until the beef and barley are tender, about 30 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • SLOW COOKER: Transfer the beef to a slow cooker. Add the mushroom mixture and stir to combine with the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook for 3 hours on low heat setting. Uncover and stir in barley and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook for 2 hours. Uncover and stir in carrots and parsnips. Cover and book until the beef and barley are tender, about 1 hour longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the stew into warmed bowls, garnish with the dill and serve at once.

Well, for starters, as usual, I did a few of things differently here, just because I didn't have some things and didn't want to get them.

I did not have any dried mushrooms, so I skipped that. And because of that, I didn't have the 2 cups of mushroom water, so I used 4 cups of beef stock instead.

I bought two parsnips like the recipe said, but the parsnips I got were HUGE, so I'm going to have a lot of parsnips in the stew. :-)

Additionally, the recipe said finely chop the carrots and parsnips, but I didn't want it too fine and look like mush after it cooked down, so I went with little chunks that were just a touch larger than a pea in size. That worked out really well.

I also used a ton of garlic, just because I love garlic. I think I must have used 6 or 8 cloves of garlic instead of the recommended 2. Don't feel you need to do that at all.

With the beef, I coated them in some salt, pepper and flour, before I browned them, because I wanted the flour in the stock to thicken up the stock a bit into a nice sauce.

When I put everything into the pot, before going into the oven, I had the pot on the stove and brought it to a boil before putting it into the oven. I used the oven to slow cook as I do not have a slow cooker (nor do I have the room in my tiny kitchen for one!!)

Once I put the parsnips and carrots in, that took up a lot of space in the pot, but it also meant that there was not enough sauce / juice left and the sauce got quite thick while slow cooking, so I added another 2 more cups of beef stock (or just enough to cover the vegetables) and brought it back to a boil on the stove before putting it back into the oven to cook again.

On the last round of cooking while the vegetables where still in the pot, I cooked it in the oven for another hour, so in total, I cooked it for 2 hours, then 1 hour and then another hour. I always brought the pot back to the boil on the stove before putting it back in the oven each time.

The apartment smelled amazing the whole time that the stew was cooking!!

This stew turned out to be very delicious. The Boy loved it. In fact, he had been sneaking tastes in between each time I took the pot out of the oven. :-)

This is a fabulous winter dish. I served it with a side of quinoa and a side salad. The quinoa soaked up the sauce from the stew and was just delicious!!

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