Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Recipe Tuesday, er, Wednesday

Dude, I totally spaced yesterday on my promise to provide a new recipe, so here goes.

Bodacious Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

1.5 lbs. lean stew meat (roast, round steak, whatever), trimmed and cubed
1 large onion, chopped (large = baseball sized...I hate it when recipes don't specify- onions come in lots of sizes!)
4-5 large carrots, peeled and chopped, or about 1 c. whole baby carrots (We like the big ones- baby carrots are much sweeter)
4-5 stalks celery, chopped (Don't be afraid to use the leaves!)
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, chopped
3/4 c. pearl barley (I use Quaker brand in a white box)
1/2 to 1 c. good quality red wine (more or less to taste), such as Merlot or Cab-Sauv
2 bay leaves
1.5 tsp. dried thyme
1.5 tsp. dried rosemary
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 c. beef broth or stock (I use hot water and 4 bouillion cubes)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Drizzle some olive oil into a large stock pot over medium/high heat. Add the beef chunks, season with kosher salt and pepper, and stir until the beef begins to brown. Pour in about a half a cup of dry red wine. (I usually don't measure the wine...just pour a few splashes straight from the bottle.) Add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook until the beef is fully browned.

Crush the dried rosemary with a mortar and pestle. Add the rosemary, dried thyme, and bay leaves; crush the garlic through a press right over the pot and scrape it off the press with a knife. Pour in the beef stock and barley. Bring to a gentle boil and cook covered for about 20 minutes, until the barley just begins to soften, stirring periodically.

Your kitchen should possess a delightful mixture of scents of beef, wine, herbs, and vegetables.

While the barley is cooking, prepare the potatoes. Peel off the skins, if desired. Sometimes I leave them on and just cube the taters. I only add two medium potatoes to mine, and I make fairly small cubes.

Add the potatoes when the barley is just beginning to look translucent on the edges. Get yourself a tasting bowl and a spoon. Ladle out some of the liquid and taste for seasoning. If desired, add more red wine. It should not need more salt, since beef broth adds plenty, but season to your tastes.

Remove the lid and finish cooking the potatoes, about another 10-15 minutes. Remember to stir occasionally.

Serve big bowls of this lovely stew with a side of good bread. It's even better the second day, but you may have to thin it with a little water.

Bon appetit!

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