December 2, 2012 by Jason Rice MD
Today we’re breaking out a great retro device – the slow cooker. (Hence the lo-fi polaroid style photos…)
This stew packs a lot of flavor and great ingredients into a simple dish that you can place in your slow cooker and leave all day while you work, study, relax or do whatever you do all day. As always, the focus is on healthy ingredients and seasonings that will appeal to all ages.
Don’t forget, there aren’t many things more enjoyable than walking into your home after your slow cooker has been running for a few hours, so be sure to at least step outside for a while when you make this recipe so that you can enjoy the aroma when you come home!
- 3/4 lb beef loin steaks, cut into bite sized pieces
- 3/4 lb pork loin chops, cut into bite sized pieces
- 3/4 cup pearled barley, rinsed
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 8 oz white mushrooms, quartered
- 2 leeks, white and light green portions, sliced and rinsed
- 1 sweet onion, sliced
- 5-6 celery stalks, chopped
- 8 oz baby cut carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
- 32 oz unsalted beef stock
- 5-6 cloves minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
- Ground black pepper to taste
- About 1 cup of water (8-12 oz of porter or stout for an “adult” stew)
This is a slow cooker recipe, which means it’s all about convenience. So the recipe can be summed up into one compound sentence: Cup up all the ingredients, place them in the slow cooker with the stock and seasoning, and cook the mixture on LOW for 8 hours.
Since that would be a really short blog post, however, I will elaborate further and walk through all the steps in a little more detail below. Starting by cutting up all the ingredients into more or less bite-sized pieces is a great place to start, though.
Place the meat and barley into the slow cooker first. Add the veggies and garlic. Add the worchestershire sauce. Season with black pepper. Given the long cook time, my suggestion on the pepper is to add as much pepper as you think you want, and then add about two more grinds. The pepper flavor will mellow and adds the needed punch since there is very little salt in this dish. Pour the beef stock into the slow cooker.
Depending on the size of your slow cooker and the total volume of all the veggies you’ve used, you will need at least some water to cover all the ingredients. (If making the adult version, add the beer here.) You can also use a little extra stock, but it’s not worth opening a second 32 oz carton. If you have a small can of stock or broth on hand, feel free to use that instead.
Set your slow cooker on LOW for 8 hours and DO NOT TOUCH IT. You don’t need to stir it or do anything. Even if some of the ingredients float up to the top and aren’t submerged, they will cook just fine. Something I recently learned is that the HIGH and LOW settings on the slow cooker mainly refer to the speed at which the machine will reach the top cooking temperature, so cooking on high is really not needed in a recipe like this where long, low cooking is desired.
Eight hours later…
…the meat and veggies will be super tender and perfect for your littlest eaters as well as your biggest. This makes a great comfort meal on a cool fall day and keeps great as leftovers as well. Don’t forget to pick up some good crusty bread to mop up the juices left in your bowl – Enjoy!