Monday, September 7, 2009

Beef and Barley Pot Roast

I just got back from a wonderful weekend trip, only to find that the weather has gotten much cooler at home. I don't want to turn on the heat this early in the year, but I do want to warm it up and drive off the chill. Plus, I'm still wiped from the travelling so I don't want to do a lot of work.

I grabbed some beef out of the freezer. Normally, I use fresh veggies in all my cooking, but to save time and energy (mine) I decided to go with a frozen stew mix and add a little celery and mushrooms. To that, I added barley and spices and tossed the whole thing in the oven.

Beef and Barley Pot Roast
2 lbs. beef
1/2 lb carrots
1/4 lb celery (several stalks)
8 oz mushrooms
1/2 large onion or 8-10 pearl onions
1 cup barley (use more for a less soupy stew)
1 tablespoon beef base
1 tablespoon mushroom base
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp savory
3-4 bay leaves

Dissolve the beef and mushroom bases in a cup or so of water. Add it and all ingredients to 5 quart oven safe pan. Add water to cover. Cook at 270 for several hours, until done. Serve.

Total prep time is less than half an hour, even using all fresh vegetables. You only need to check on it every once in a while to make sure there is enough fluid to cover the food. Putting it in the oven (or in a crockpot) meant I didn't have to worry about it scorching.

I added more barley one and half hours into the cooking as it didn't seem to have enough. This was both good and bad. There wasn't as much sauce as I was hoping for, but the mucilaginous quality of the barley was heightened.

As a result, the barley imparted a nice unctuousness to the dish while absorbing the saltiness of the beef and mushroom base. When I make this again, I plan to make my own broth to start with; this won't be an issue and I'll need to add salt.

All and all, a good meal for a damp, chilly day (yes, we do occasionally get them in the Inland Northwest).

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