Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Food Matters Project: Braised Beef with Barley and Fall Flavors

We've come full circle and I am thrilled to be hosting The Food Matters Project once again.

Back in April I selected a recipe full of Springtime flavors: Fish Braised in Rhubarb Sauce. My first attempt was rhubarb-less; my second attempt was successful. And I will definitely be making that again when rhubarb appears on market shelves next Spring.

So, in keeping with this season, I wanted to make a hearty, Autumn-appropriate stew. I picked Bittman's Wheat Berries with Braised Beef and Parsnips as my inspiration. Admittedly, I made a few adjustments based on what I had in my cupboard. I subbed beer for the wine, skipped the garlic, added pumpkin, quince, and chestnuts, swapped watermelon radishes for the parsnips because I had some leftover from my CSA box, and ended up having to change out barley for farro. This recipe is definitely not for when you are in a rush. But if you have multiple hours - and I did because I was cranking on an article deadline - do it! You'll love the Fall flavors.

Splash of olive oil
1 pound grass-fed beef, (your choice of cut) cubed
Salt and black pepper
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 12 oz beer (I used some Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale)
2 shots of espresso
3 C  organic beef , chicken, or vegetable stock or water + more as needed
1 C barley
2 bay leaves
1 T fennel seeds
8 large watermelon radishes, scrubbed, quartered, and sliced
1 C roasted pumpkin, cubed
1 C steamed chestnuts (thank goodness for Trader Joe's vacuum packed chestnuts!)
2 quince, peeled, cored, and sliced
sour cream, for garnish
pumpkin seed oil, for garnish
crisped bacon bits, for garnish

In a large pot saute your onions in a splash of olive oil. Once they caramelized, add the beef and brown until the edges are lightly seared. Add in one bottle of beer, one shot of espresso, and fennel seeds.

Braise the beef until it's falling apart. I did mine for about 2 hours on really low heat. Add another beer, another shot of espresso, stock, bay leaves, barley, quince and radishes. Continue simmering for another hour. Stir in the pumpkin and chestnuts and cook till warmed through.

To serve, garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a few browned bits of bacon, and a drizzling of pumpkin seed oil.

Though I diverged from Mark Bittman's recipe, it was certainly my leaping off point and I will be making this Fall stew often throughout the chilly season. Once I get my hands on some farro, I'll be making this again.

To see what the other foodie bloggers whipped up, click here. Look in the comments section.


  1. thanks so much for hosting, i loved this recipe. it turned out to be a really cold weekend and this was perfect to tuck into sunday night.

  2. Great choice Camilla! It has been a long time since I made stew and I had never had wheat berries before.

  3. When do the radishes go in? When do I use the beef stock?

  4. Sorry, Andy. I guess I didn't write that recipe very well. I've edited to include your two questions. ~CMM

  5. Camilla, loved your choice this week! Thanks for hosting and picking such a great recipe. It was so adaptable and we really enjoyed it :)

  6. Look tasty! I love wheat berries...but farro is probably my favorite grain.


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