It's winter. It's spring! It's winter … wait, no it's "spring..ter"!!! That is what I am officially declaring this season: "Springter".
The weather is all over the map, and, while it can be troublesome, there are some unseen advantages to it being cold, rainy and somewhat dreary! Usually, I hold out on making soups, stews and chili once it is mild to hot outside.
That means that from pretty much when the snow melts until the leaves start to fall, I am unlikely to cook those stick-to-your-ribs, warm-your-soul type of recipes. Its just too hot out to enjoy those things... but, it just hasn’t been that kind of spring.
We have had a few mild to warm days but it has been (and continues to be) cool out for a lot of this season. No problem! That just expands our menu options. Do me a favour? Get out your slow cooker or instant pot and let’s get started! One of my favourite cold rainy-day recipes is a hearty "Doug’s Beef and Barley Stew".
Since it is (kind of?) Spring, we'll focus on vegetables and herbs that are now in-season in Ontario.
Doug's Beef & Barley Stew
• Drizzle of olive oil
• ¼ unbleached all-purpose flour
• 2 lbs of cubed stewing beef
• Dash of kosher salt
• Dash of freshly ground black pepper
• 1 medium yellow or Spanish onion – diced
• 2 Stalks of celery – thick sliced
• 4 carrots (heritage carrots if you are looking to add vibrant colours to the pot) – thick sliced
• Handful of mushrooms – sliced
• 1 parsnip – thick sliced
• 3-4 large russet or white potatoes – peeled and cubed
• 2-3 Green onions – diced
• 2-3 Garlic scapes – diced • Handful of chives – diced
• ¾ cup of barley
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 4-6 cups of beef and/or bone broth (use 6 cups if you like a thinner broth)
• Sprigs of parsley for garnish
Note: Why thick sliced? The reason that you want to cut your vegetables thick is because using a slow cooker or instant pot will soften them. If they are sliced/cut too thin, they will turn to mush!
Slow Cooker Instructions:
1. Whisk together the flour, kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place the beef in the flour mixture and toss until the beef is coated. Shake off the excess. In a large (I prefer stainless steel or cast iron) frying pan heat (med-high) the oil. Add in the beef and fry until it's browned. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
2. Add in the rest of the ingredients (minus the garnish) and mix until combined. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Serve with freshly baked biscuits or garlic bread.
Instant Pot Directions:
1. Whisk together the flour, kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place the beef in the flour mixture and toss until the beef is coated. Shake off the excess. In the bottom of your Instant Pot, heat the oil using the sauté button. Add in the beef and cook until browned.
2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and then stir until combined. Use the soup button and cook for 30 minutes. You can either release the steam manually or let it naturally release, the choice is up to you. Stir and serve.
• If you don’t not have a slow cooker or an instant pot, this recipe can be cooked on the stove top; you just have to bring the contents to a boil and then set to simmer until the barley and vegetables are soft. Be careful not to let it burn to the bottom of the pan!
If you enjoy the recipes that we post, please let us know!
- Douglas Carney, EC1 Superintendent.