Rainy day crock pot recipe

I tried something new this week and wanted to share it. I thawed out some beef stew meat with plans for a beef and barley stew, but before I could get it made, I got to go serve a family who surprisingly had some thawed out as well and wanted 'something' made out of it. So I made one for them, which turned out really well, and then came home to make one for us, which turned out not quite as good, but got better with each day of leftovers. Here is the basic recipe:

Beef and Barley Stew

1/2 onion, diced

3 lg carrots, cut into 1/2 inch rounds

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 russet potatoes, cubed

1 c. frozen green beans, chopped into 1 inch sections

1 lb stew meat, cubed into 1/4 inch pieces (for a bit in each bite!)

2 quarts beef broth

1 sm can of tomato paste

2/3 c. pearl barley, uncooked

I would love to say I just threw it all in the crock pot and left it all day...but I put a bit more work into it (that might be worth your time.

I am a de-glazer. I admit it. Since the first person tasted my soup and said, "It has flavor!" I have been hooked on deglazing. You might like it too.

All I do to deglaze is to lightly saute one of the veggies in some olive oil until they are a bit crisp, and then add broth to deglaze the pan. When the soup turns really fantastic, it is usually because I do this with each veggie before addiing it to the pot.

Today I ran out of time after the onions, carrots and celery and had Mark just throw everything else into the pot, minus the barley.

And evidently if you sear the meat first (even in tiny cubes) and then use the crock pot, you come out with some pretty tender bits of meat. So didn't skip that step. (Yes, and I deglazed too.)

Barley goes in about an hour before dinner is served, otherwise it gets glue-y. Or so I have been told.

Otherwise, the crock pot is ready to roll dinner out in about 6 hours on high or 8+ hrs on low.

For my clients I served cornbread on the side, but at home, we just toasted bread and were thankful for a homemade meal to share together on a rainy night. And again for lunch the next two days.

Hope it inspires you.