Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 25, 2021

© Ryan Szulc

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Beefy barley kale stew

Dishes that you can prep or cook ahead to save time later

The rich flavours of browned beef only get better when they’re stewed with tender barley and finished with hearty kale. This stew is comfort food at its best — rich and satisfying, hearty and healthy. Add just about any other green vegetable you can think of: broccoli, asparagus, peas, edamame, savoury greens, Brussels sprouts.

Today for tomorrow:
• Prep the vegetables a few days in advance. Refrigerate tightly sealed in a zip-top bag.

2 lbs. (900 g) of stewing beef, cut into roughly 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
a few generous splashes of vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5½-oz. (156 ml) can of tomato paste
8 c. (2 L) water
2 c. (500 ml) red wine
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. (10 ml) salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
1 c. (250 ml) barley
leaves from 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bunch of kale, tough centre ribs removed, leaves torn or cut into small bite-size pieces
prepared horseradish

Heat your largest thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat while you gently dry the beef on a few paper towels. Splash a pool of oil into the pot, swirling to cover the bottom with a thin film. Without crowding the pan, carefully add a single layer of beef. This is your only shot at adding the rich, deep flavours that can only come from respectfully browned meat. Listen to the heat. Sizzle is the sound of flavour. Too loud, though, and a sizzling pan becomes a smoking-burning pan. When the beef is deeply browned all over, transfer to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the beef, 10 to 15 minutes in total. Pour off any excess oil, leaving behind any browned bits of goodness.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, water, wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Return the beef and any juices to the pot. Stirring occasionally, briefly bring the works to a furious boil, then reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Cover tightly and gently simmer for an hour or so, stirring now and then, patiently tenderizing the meat, releasing its richness and building deep beefy flavour. Stir in the barley and cook for another hour or until the beef is meltingly tender and the barley deliciously chewy. When it’s time to eat, discard the bay leaf and return to a simmer. Stir in the thyme and kale, cover, turn off the heat and rest just long enough to wilt the greens, a minute or two. Serve with lots of sharp horseradish. Makes 8 bowls, easily doubled in a larger pot.

• Tightly seal the stew and refrigerate within 30 minutes of cooking. Store for up to six days before reheating.
• Portion, tightly seal and freeze for up to 30 days. Reheat straight from the freezer or thaw in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before reheating.

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