Beef and Barley Stew
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
Stew season is coming to an end, but we had a little cold front last weekend that had me craving something warm and comforting. It was also St. Patrick's day, so I immediately started dreaming of my beef and barley stew. This hearty "pot of gold" is an old favorite in our cocina and Tobin requests it frequently. It's rich without being heavy and stocked with soft cubes of beef, creamy potatoes, aromatic root vegetables and tender grains of barley- I mean, how can you go wrong? I usually make this in the InstantPot pressure cooker to save time, but you can also prepare it in a dutch oven on your stove. To make it more authentically "Irish," try using some Guinness in place of the white wine. The chopped dill sprinkled on top adds a bright, fresh finish to the stew, and sometimes I will mix in a tiny dollop of sour cream for a punch of creamy acidity. Serve this hearty meal with a hunk of bread slathered in some salted Irish butter and you'll feel like you're the luckiest leprechaun in the clover patch!
prep time: ~15 min. cook time: ~50 min. (InstantPot) or ~2.5 hrs. (stovetop) serves: 6
extra virgin olive oil
2-1/2 lbs boneless chuck roast, most fat trimmed and cut into 2" cubes
8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
3-4 cloves garlic (1 tbsp), minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup pearled barley
1 large dried bay leaf
1-1/2 cups diced potatoes, such as yukon gold
6-8 cups beef or chicken stock
1 tbsp softened butter
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
chopped fresh dill, parsley, a squeeze of lemon, Tabasco, and/or sour cream
Set your InstantPot or electric pressure cooker to the the sauté function. Season the cubed beef liberally with salt and pepper. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pot and when it's hot, add the beef and brown on both sides (work in batches if needed so as not to steam the beef). Remove the beef to a plate.
Add a little more olive oil to the pot if needed, and toss in the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Allow the vegetables to sweat 5 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Add the sliced mushrooms to the vegetables and cook another 3-5 minutes, until tender. Remove all of the vegetables to another plate and set them aside.
Add the wine to the pot and allow it to reduce by half, scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Return the beef to the pot along with the potatoes, barley, bay leaf, 6 cups stock, 1 more tsp of salt and another 1/2 tsp black pepper. Close the lid on the InstantPot with valve in "sealing" position and switch function to manually cook at high pressure for 20 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes, do a quick release (watch out for the steam!), open the InstantPot and add in the mushroom/veggie mixture. I do this in steps because the vegetables can turn to mush of cooked too long in a pressure cooker. Place the lid back on the InstantPot (valve in "sealing" position again) and cook on high pressure another 15 minutes. Allow the InstantPot to naturally release for at least 20 minutes, then remove lid and set the IP to the sauté function- bring the stew to a heavy simmer.
Mix the butter and flour together in a small bowl to fully incorporate. Stir the thickening mixture into the bubbling stew along with the Worcestershire sauce and allow everything to simmer 5 minutes more to slightly thicken (check for seasoning at this point, adding more salt and pepper if needed). Ladle the hot stew into large bowls and garnish with the chopped herbs, Tabasco, a squeeze of lemon, and/or a dollop of sour cream if desired.
Season the cubed beef liberally with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large Dutch oven set over med/high heat. Add the beef and brown on all sides (work in batches so as not to steam the beef). Remove the beef to a plate.
Toss the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper into the pot. Allow vegetables to sweat 5-7 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and cook another 3 minutes, until tender.
Deglaze the Dutch oven with the white wine, allowing it to reduce by half and scraping up the brown bits as it simmers. Return the beef to the pot along with 6 cups of stock, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp salt and give a good stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover the Dutch oven and allow the stew to low simmer for 1 hour and 30 min. At the end of that time, add the barley and potatoes to the pot and allow to simmer another 40-60 minutes, until the barley, potatoes and beef are very tender. Add more stock as the stew cooks if it seems to dry out.
If the stew seems thin (less likely when cooking on stove), mix the butter and flour together in a small bowl and add the thickening mixture into the stew during the last 5 minutes of cooking, along with the Worcestershire sauce. Check for seasoning and discard bay leaf. Ladle the hot stew into large bowls and garnish with dill, parsley, tabasco, lemon and sour cream or as desired.