Approx cost: €4
Approx calories (per serving if divided by 6): ~350
Approx preparation and cooking time: 60 mins
I recently bought some lovely lean braising steak and I was dreaming about posting a lovely “boeuf bourguignon” (ok, actually the dreams were about eating it, not so much the posting part :p) and then I realised that I currently still don’t have an oven. While pondering what I could do with the meat instead we suddenly had a bit of a cold snap – a couple of days of rain, grey skies and chill so stew, or “Pot au Feu” as the French call it, seemed like a good idea.
The great thing about stew is that you can literally hack it to suit you however you like. Don’t have x, y or z vegetable? No problem! Want to replace the meat with chunks of sausage? No problem! I’ve had many a rather hilarious argument with my Irish friend regarding stews. He makes a rather delicious Irish Stew which I think has a vegetable soup base and “definitely no barley”. Perhaps I can make a post about that one one day if he’d like to share the recipe but for this version we’ll be sticking to barley and water as a base. The barley makes a great addition, as long as you don’t add too much, and acts to absorb some of the water and thicken it up. Additionally, the water base means you can taste all the vegetables in their “purest” form. This is especially good with “dumplings”, but that’s a post for another day I think. Here’s to stew – hardly pretty, but colourful, warming and hearty!
– 500g or more lean Meat (Braising Steak works best)
– ~ 1 or 2 large Onions
– ~ 1 or 2 Leeks
– ~ 3 or 4 large Carrots
– ~ 2 large Turnips
– ~ 3 large Potatoes
– ~ 3 large stems of Celery
– ~ 40g Pearl Barley
– 1 tbsp Olive Oil
– 2 tsps dried Thyme
– 1 Bay Leaf
– Swede (Rutabaga)
- Before you begin, make sure you have a large pan. A stock-pot or similar deep pan will be sufficient. Start off by peeling and chopping the Onion coarsely. Trim and clean the Leeks and chop into thick chunks. Heat the Olive Oil in the pan and when hot, add in the Onion and Leek and fry for a couple of minutes, until the Leek is starting to “unravel” from th the rounds that it’s in.
- While the Leek and Onion is cooking, cut the meat into large chunks, being sure to remove any hard sinew or fat (some soft fat is fine). Add into the pan with the Leek and Onion (once ready) and fry quickly, stirring well, to ensure the outside is lightly browned but the inside is still uncooked.
- Once the meat is done, remove the pan from the heat while you prepare the rest of the vegetables. Peel and roughly chop the turnips, potatoes and carrots (plus the others if using). Remember not to cut the pieces too small – you want a good chunky consistency. Wash, trim and chop the celery, and then add everything into the pot with the leek, onion and beef. Add in the Thyme, the Bay Leaf and the Barley, as well as some freshly ground salt and pepper. Stir well to mix and then fill the pan with water, to just below the level of the vegetables. Cover with a lid and return to the stove on a medium heat for around 40 minutes, stirring once or twice during this time.
- After this time the vegetables should be soft enough to stick through with a fork and a lot of the water should have been absorbed into the barley and vegetables. If there is still a great deal of water left, leave uncovered and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes, being sure to stir every now and again. Serve out and enjoy. Goes well with some nice white bread, to mop up the stock!