Hearty Beef and Barley Stew

    Time to make a recipe which has been sitting in the back of my mind for over a month. I saw it in my Martha Stewart Magazine in the "Healthy Living" section back in October but didn't get a chance to make it because I had neither beef nor barley. But after my last trip to Whole Foods I stocked up on some goodies and spent the week anxious for the weekend when I could make this beauty. My good friend Jeremy, came over for a night of "comfort" (plus a little awkward/hilarious/slightly sketchy trip to Blockbuster).

    Beef and Barley Stew - modified from Martha Stewart Living Magazine

    2 Tbs olive oil plus 2 Tbs butter
    1 pound London Broil, 3/4 inch pieces
    salt and pepper
    1 large onion, chopped
    4 medium carrots, chopped
    8 oz sliced button mushrooms
    2 Tablespoons minced garlic (4-5 cloves)
    2 Tbs tomato paste
    1/2 cup sherry
    4 cups chicken stock
    3 cups water
    1 cup pearl barley
    pinch of nutmeg
    1-2 cups fresh spinach leaves

    Heat 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp oil in a large pot over medium-high heat
    Season beef with salt and pepper and brown on all sides
    Transfer to a plate

    Reduce heat to medium and add remaining oil and the butter

    Cook the onion, carrot, and mushrooms until golden - stir occasionally so they stick to the bottom of the pan (15 minutes)

    Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until caramelized, about 2 minutes

    Remove from heat and add sherry

    Return to heat, bring to a boil and scrape up the brown goodies from the bottom o the pan

    Continue to cook down until the liquid has reduced by about half - 5 minutes-ish

    Add the beef and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Add more water if it gets too dry.

    Add barley and cook covered for 10 minutes, then uncover the pit and cook until the barley and beef are tender. This takes about 20-30 minutes. Stir in the spinach.

    Serve in a big bowl curled up in bed with a good book, a cute movie...or your bacteriology notes.

    Jeremy brought pumpkin muffins, by the by...which he baked in handmade parchment cups (just take a square of parchment and tuck it into the baking cup).

    I had some homemade cream cheese frosting in the fridge which we spread over top. Best combo EVER.

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