By Chef Dez/Special to Black Press Media
Good slow-cooker recipes are great assets for our busy lifestyles, and the autumn season usually starts the succession of these cooking escapades in our household.
One of our favourites is this recipe for beef barley stew.
There are a couple of brands of beef stock paste that I can recommend: “Better Than Bouillon” or Major” brands. If you can find beef stock paste, then just use 2 cups of beef broth instead of the 2 cups of apple juice.
Beef barley slow-cooker stew – makes 12 cups
Beef stock paste is a reduction of beef juices to paste form, and used instead of bouillon cubes.
Traditionally 1 tsp of this paste mixed with 1 cup of water would make 1 cup of broth.
I use apple juice, and the juice from the tomatoes, in this recipe instead of water because water has no flavour.
680g (1.5 pounds) beef stew meat
3 tablespoons canola oil
Salt & pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced lengthwise, then 1/2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/2-inch pieces
8 to 10 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider
8 medium mushrooms, quartered
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons beef stock paste
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 – 798ml can diced tomatoes
2 cups apple juice or apple cider
Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat.
In a bowl toss beef pieces with 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper.
When the pan is hot, add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and brown each piece of meat without crowding the pan – you may have to brown the beef in 2 or 3 batches.
When each batch of meat is browned transfer to the slow cooker.
Turn off the heat to the pan and add the onions, carrot, celery, garlic and the 3 tablespoons of apple juice to the pan. Stir until the pan has cooled and the vegetables have cooked slightly, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer this vegetable mixture to the slow cooker.
To the slow cooker add the mushrooms, rosemary, bay leaves, beef paste, barley, tomatoes, and the apple juice.
Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for approximately 8 to 10 hours.
Remove and discard the bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
– Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4