Stick to your ribs.

When it’s cold and gloomy outside, I need comfort food. The stick to your ribs kind of fare.

My go-to as of late is this beef stew, which I make all the time. You can’t beat a dish that allows you to throw some meat and chopped vegetables in a pot, pour a bottle of wine over it and then forget it for a couple of hours. (It would probably do really well in a crock pot, though I haven’t tried that yet.)

This recipe is a little different, because of its surprise ingredient — barley. I know, I know. That sounds totally weird, but it’s delicious. And you can feel healthy about eating your whole grains, right? The original recipe called for a topping of potatoes, but I like roasting them separately. Or serving it with mashed potatoes.

Enjoy, and stay warm out there!

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Beef Stew 

1-2 pounds beef stew meat
1 cup flour
salt & pepper
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1-2 cups fresh or frozen pearl onions
1 carton mushrooms, quartered
4 garlic cloves, whole
1-2 bay leaves
5-6 sprigs thyme
1 bottle (750ml) red wine
1 quart beef stock
1 cup barley

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Trim any excess fat from the beef, cut it into 2-inch cubes and toss them in a bit of flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a dutch oven. Pat the beef cubes to remove excess flour and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the meat from the pot and set it aside.

Add the vegetables and garlic to the dutch oven and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until the vegetables are just softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the meat, bottle of wine, quart of stock, bay leaves, thyme and barley, and stir to combine. Cover and roast in the oven for 2 hours.

When the stew is ready, remove the meat, discard any bones and shred it with a fork. Then add the meat back into the stew.

Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes.

For roasted potatoes:

10 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 russet potatoes
1 stick butter
1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan. Mix the minced garlic with a sprinkle of kosher salt and, using the back of your knife, mash it against the cutting board to make a paste. Add the parsley, then add the garlic mixture to the butter. Cook it on low in the saucepan for about 5 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and slice them lengthwise in thirds. Oil the bottom of a baking dish, place the potatoes on the bottom and baste them with the butter. Bake uncovered at 350° F for 45 minutes to an hour, basting with more butter every so often.

*Inspired by Tyler Florence’s Lamb Shank Stew with Russet Potato Top

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