Hearty Winter Beef Stew

Beef Barley StewIt’s the middle of winter and hearty, filling food is on the menu. When I think about what’s in season now…what isn’t coming from Argentina or Chile or South Africa, the list is depressingly slim. It’s time to take stock; there is beef in the freezer courtesy of the farmer up the road, there are hard-shelled winter squash aplenty in the basement thanks to my friend with infinite garden space and there are onions in the pantry from the local grocery store (I really ought to learn how to grow onions). Three basic ingredients that despite their simplicity, promise to come together as make a tangy, satisfying and deeply pleasant mid-winter meal.

This meal works best when braised in a dutch oven.  But any oven proof pot with a tight fitting lid will do. Preheat oven to 325F. Serves 4.

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 lbs. stewing beef, cubed and patted dry

2 yellow onion, sliced into rounds

1 small firm squash like a little pumpkin or acorn, peeled and cubed.

1 lemon- with rind grated and juice squeezed

1 Tbsp dried Rosemary

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Pour oil into pot and then add all of the rest of the ingredients. Stir and then set in the oven for an hour. Remove, stir, replace the lid and cook another 1.5 hrs.

The meat comes out dark and crunchy and the browned bits add a depth of flavor to this meal that makes my mouth water writing this. Once cooked, the veggies in the dish will resemble a paste and they are simply arduous when mixed with meat, slow-cooked and braised to caramelized perfection. Serve over pearl barley cooked in beef broth.

If you have never friended a farmer you’re missing out on a world of grounding connection between the people who grow what you eat and you, the eater.  Community Supported Agriculture is a great way for city and rural folks to connect over good eats and win-win way for everyone to get what they want. You’ll generally pay less for your meat and produce this way and if you find a farmer with values that match your own then you’ll eat happier as well



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