Thursday, December 10, 2009

Simple Suppers: Slow-Cooker Beef, Vegetable & Barley Stew

I've recently been fielding lots of requests for more slow-cooker recipes, so on this blustery cold December day (OK, maybe it is 60 degrees, but that's cold for LA!), I'm writing up one of my favorite recipes for Organic Beef, Vegetable & Barley Stew.

I know we talk a lot about organics and sustainability issues on this blog, but for the record, I'm a believer in eating some meat as part of a balanced diet.  For this recipe, I used grass-fed, organic stew beef, which is exceptionally lean, affordable and delicious.  It's a great source of lean protein when eaten in moderation, like with a serving of this stew.  Also, because this type of beef is low in fat, it doesn't need to be precooked to drain the fat before adding it to your slow-cooker.  Simply toss it in with your other ingredients, and you're ready to go!

I also piled this stew full of a great variety of vegetables like cremini mushrooms and bell peppers, which you can vary by season, and pearl barley, a fantastic, nutty whole grown that's low in the glycemic index.

Don't eat beef?

A great alternative would be bison stew meat, which I always have squirreled away in my freezer from Lindner Bison, or for you non-red meat eaters, substituting chicken and chicken broth for the beef and beef broth would be delicious.

This stew is an absolute snap to make - just pile everything into your slow-cooker and leave it all day.  Also, it's a complete meal unto itself, composed of protein, vegetables and whole grain, making it the perfect Simple Supper.  Another suggestion?  Make a huge batch and freeze half of it to eat down the road.

Slow-Cooker Beef, Vegetable & Barley Stew
Serves 4-6 people

1 lb organic stew beef
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick chunks
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup cremini mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup fresh or frozen lima beans
6 cups beef broth
1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme sprigs & sage leaves tied together with kitchen twine)

optional: 1 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle and tied up in a cheesecloth satchel tied with kitchen twine 


Throw all the ingredients in a slow-cooker.  Cook for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.  Once the beef is tender and cooked through, and the vegetables and barley are cooked, remove the bouquet garni and the cardamom satchel.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle into a bowl and drizzle with good olive oil, if desired.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic stew beef, organic cremini mushrooms, organic onion, organic celery, organic garlic and pearl barley from Whole Foods

organic red bell pepper, organic heirloom carrots & organic fresh lima beans from the Hollywood Farmers Market

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