This is a recipe we've tweaked and adapted to where it's finally just about perfect. The tender beef combines with tangy tomatoes, rich barley and a mild hint of dried thyme to make a recipe that's out-of-this-world delicious.
But best of all, it's easy. It takes maybe 15 minutes of prep work, and then just a few hours of zero-maintenance simmering in your crockpot. Before you know it, you'll be sitting down to an incredibly delicious and hearty meal that feeds up to nine hungry people. All for the laughably cheap cost of about $1.25 per serving. Can't beat that!
Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew
2 to 2.5 pounds stew beef, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
Black pepper and kosher salt, to taste
4 Tablespoons olive oil, in all
2 onions, chopped coarsely
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
3/4 cup red wine
3 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes (canned!)
5-6 cups water (depending on your slowcooker's capacity)
2 bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon ground dried thyme
2/3 cup pearl barley
Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
1) Season the beef with black pepper and salt. Heat about 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil to medium-high in a large skillet, then brown the meat for a few minutes on each side. Don't overcook. Place the meat in the slow cooker.
2) Add another 2 Tablespoons olive oil to the same pan, heat to medium high, and saute the onions, celery and carrots for 5-7 minutes until softening. Add the red wine. Deglaze the bottom of the pan and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Then add the vegetable/red wine mixture to the slow cooker.
3) Last, add the tomatoes, water, bouillon cubes, thyme and barley to the slow cooker. Stir and combine everything well, set slow cooker on high and cook for 3-4 hours. Serve with optional fresh parsley.
1) You'll need a 5 quart slow-cooker in order to make this recipe as written, and even then, you might need to slightly reduce the amount of water in the recipe by a cup or so to make sure everything fits. Don't worry, it's still going to come out amazing. A good crockpot rule of thumb is to leave half an inch or so of space between the top of the food and the crockpot lid. Otherwise, sauce can splatter out from under the lid during cooking.
2) A suggestion for two easy side dishes that go perfectly with this recipe: Morrocan Carrot Salad and Perfect Corn Bread. Delicious and healthy!
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