Beef and Barley Stew - ☺♥

Beef and Barley Stew

This recipe is from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's great book, The Food Lab©, very slightly modified by me to contain my minor differences in ingredient preferences and procedure. You simply have to make this stuff. Kenji is oh, so right about it being great and easy to make. Don't hesitate. Go for it.

As given, this recipe makes an easy gallon of stew, which is fine for a group of six to eight hungry guests, or for delicious leftovers if fewer folks eat it. It is also easy to halve the recipe for fewer people.


4 pounds of lean boneless chuck roast or other lean beef roast, defatted

1/4 cup of canola oil

1 tbsp. each of coarsely ground black pepper and Kosher Salt

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks

4 large stalks of celery cut into 1/2" chunks

1 large sweet onion, diced

2 tsp. of soy sauce

2 tbsp. of tomato paste

1 tsp. of Marmite (you can order it from the UK via Amazon, inexpensively)

4 cloves of garlic, minced

4, 14 ounce cans of chicken broth

Up to one pint of water during cooking, if needed

1, 28 ounce can of peeled plum tomatoes and juice, chopped

2 cups of uncooked pearl barley

4 bay leaves

4 cups of tightly packed roughly chopped kale leaves


Trim any fat from the beef and cut it into slices about 3/4" wide.

Cut the beef slices into chunks about 1/2" by 1/2". Mix the beef chunks with the Kosher salt and the pepper in a large bowl.

Heat the oil in a large, 1 1/2 to 2 gallon heavy bottom pot until it starts to smoke.

Add 1/3 of the beef pieces, and sear/brown them, first on one side for five minutes and then mix them and continue browning and mixing for an additional five minutes. Remove the beef pieces to a large bowl. Repeat the process two times to complete the cooking of the beef, keeping all of the cooked beef in the bowl. If necessary, reduce the heat to keep the pot from scorching during cooking.

Put the heat on medium high, and add the carrots, celery and the diced onion to the pot and stir, scraping up some of the brown particles left from the meat. Cook until the vegetables have softened and developed a nice brown color from the meat particles, 5 to 10 minutes. This process goes faster with a lid on the pot with frequent stirring.

Add the Marmite, soy sauce, minced garlic and tomato paste. Mix well and cook for an additional minute. Then add the chicken broth and use a long wooden spoon to capture any remaining pieces of beef stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Add the tomatoes, barley and bay leaves to the pot along with the beef. Increase the heat to high until the mixture boils, then put it on very low heat (typically a very small burner), covered, to simmer for two hours, with occasional stirring to keep the barley from sticking to the bottom of the pot. If the mixture is becoming too thick then add one pint of water and mix and continue cooking.

Add the kale pieces and cook, covered, at a simmer for five minutes, then shut off the heat and let the stew rest, covered, for at least one hour.

Taste the stew and adjust the salt and pepper seasoning as needed.

You can serve the stew or store it refrigerated until the next day for even better flavor. We enjoyed eating fresh buttered Scalia bread with the stew. A glass of a mild red table wine is also a nice addition, though most any beverage is fine with this meal.