Beef & Barley (or Potato) Stew

The image for this recipe (inspired by a hearty version by Cooks Illustrated) shows the stew with kale but it was with this batch that I decided simple is best. I prefer just onions (which melt into the stew, carrots and either barley or potato. Oh and of course, peas which I tend to throw into each bowl before ladling the stew.

That said, you can add more vegetables (e.g. parsnips) and greens towards the end (e.g. kale). It’s really like a stone soup recipe so feel free to chuck in anything you find in the fridge that you need to clean out.

Yields about 6 servings


  • 1-½ pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 yellow onions, small dice
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley OR 12 ounces potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
  • ½ cup frozen peas


Heat oven to 300 degrees and put oven rack to lower- middle position. Pat beef chunks with paper towels; season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until oil is almost smoking. Add beef chunks and brown on all sides. Transfer meat to a bowl and set aside.

Add 2 teaspoons oil to the pot, and onions and cook until softened which should take about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and tomato paste, stirring into the mixture and until the flour browns lightly.            

Slowly add the red wine, scraping up any browned bits. Add chicken broth and beef broth, stirring until smooth. Add bay leaves and cooked beef chunks. Bring to simmer, then cover with pot with a lid and transfer to the oven to took for 1½ hours.

Carefully remove pot from oven. Stir in barley or potatoes and carrots. Replace lid and return to oven to cook for another 1 hour.

Remove stew from oven and remove bay leaves. Stir in peas and let sit for 5 minutes (or add peas to individual bowls just before serving to maximize green color). Salt and pepper to taste.