Beef Stew with Whole Grain Rye and Barley

Posted on November 2, 2009. Filed under: Favorite Recipes |

Fall is my favorite time of year, not just because the long Texas summer winds down and the leaves start turning colors, not just because of football, dove hunting and lower electric bills, but because of the Fall Cuisine at the Walker bunker. Fall is still nice enough to grill outside, have a cool sandwich or salad, but also now cool enough to enjoy soups and stews, lasagna and spaghetti, etc., etc.

This weekend Dawn and I decided to do a stew, and here is what we came up with.

I started with a 2lb+ package of stew meat, but didn’t quite use it all- saved out about 1/2 a lb to use with something else. I placed the stew in the crock pot on high with about 6 cups of water.

Next I turned to the veggies with a vengeance, knife in hand. I attacked the carrots first all. I peeled and chopped several carrots until I had a dinner plate completely covered in the orange  treasures. I cut my carrots pretty large for a pot roast, and fairly small for a soup. Carrots for a stew are in the middle, the biggest pieces may be an inch in length. I use regular full size carrots because I like the difference in diameters each piece gives. In the crock pot you go!

My next victims are the potatoes. We prefer red skinned potatoes for most things and we always leave the skins on. Again, like the carrots, I chop them smaller than I would for a roast, but larger than for a soup. Another full plate of chopped veggies goes into the pot.

I give three stalks of celery the same treatment. This is only about 2/3 of plate however. Off to the crock pot with you.

I had two smallish onions and I chop them up, but I chop some of them quite small, as if for  a soup, and other large.

I chop up a rather large jalapeno and couple of small, stray, serrano peppers. You didn’t think I could make stew without hot peppers did ya? I do sample the peppers to make sure I am not going to overheat the stew, because I will add some black pepper and cayenne later. The red serranos were surprisingly mild but the green  jalapeno was a bit warm.

The final vegetable is garlic. Most people would say that garlic is but a seasoning, but not me. I consider it to be a real live veggie. So I use an entire bulb of fresh garlic. Yeah, it’s a real pain chopping up all those cloves, but I prefer that to getting the garlic in a bottle. Like the onions, I chop the garlic into different sizes from minced finely to whole cloves untouched.

After all the veggies and meat have cooked for a while, a couple of hours on high, I start adding the seasonings. I start with about a teaspoon of sea salt, but that is rarely enough and I always end up adding more salt to my own bowl as I eat. I just don’t want to over salt it at the beginning. Then about a teaspoon of black pepper followed closely by 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne. I like my stews spicy hot (when I eat my stew I will also usually add some Tabasco).

I throw in about 5-6 Bay Leaves, a few sprinkles of liquid smoke, 1 can of tomato sauce, and, this is the first time I have done this-but it really worked- about 1/4 bottle of Mesquite Bar B Q sauce.

I let this mixture heat up to boiling again, another couple of hours, then I add the pearled barley and brown rice, about 1/4 cup each, and finally add the thickener, about 1 cup of whole grain Rye flour. Some of the flour I mix in a cup of cold water and then stir into the stew, but I also use the sprinkle method, which invariably produces tiny lumps so I have to stir and mash with a fork. The boiling process also eliminated the remaining small lumps.

It now cooks for a couple of more hours.

But the result? I think this was the best stew I have ever made. The addition of the jalapenos, the whole grain flour, and the Bar B Q sauce really set this stew apart. I think it may have been perfect. We basically let it cook all night Saturday night, and all day Sunday and finally ate it on Sunday evening before church.


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