Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hearty Beef & Barley For One

Remember that beefy stock I made last week in my pressure cooker? Well, along with consuming half of it making quick single soups, I froze the other half in my silicone mini muffin molds and stored them in a baggie in the freezer to use at my disposal. I also picked the meat off of the broth bones and froze. There is not a lot of flavor left in these very tender morsels, but if you chop them up and re-add them to this dish, it's very tasty and adds nice texture and protein.

Since it's getting colder now and getting into wintertime, I had a hankering for something hearty. I concocted this tasty late lunch for myself while I was watching one of my favorite cooking guys, Alton Brown.

Although I could have cut the cooking time down to nearly nothing in my pressure cooker, I opted for the range in a small and heavy sauce pan with a tight fitting lid. This way I could season and tweak to my liking. Because being at over 6,000 feet above sea level it took nearly an hour to simmer this up, but it was well worth the wait.

Diane's Hearty Beef & Barley
This is a hearty single serving, or two smaller, but still satisfying servings.

1 1/2 cups beefy broth (see November 20th's post "Under Pressure")
1/2 cup organic dry pearl barley
1/4 dry onion flakes (better than fresh for this dish because the flavor is more concentrated)
1/2 t dried thyme
1 t crushed fennel seed (you can cut this back to 1/2 t, I love fennel)
1 t Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning
1 large button mushroom, coarsely chopped (more if you'd like)
a few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped
chopped cooked beef (about 2 oz)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
boiling water (used to add while the barley absorbs)

In my case I melted the stock cubes over high heat and brought to a boil, then I added all of the dry ingredients, chopped mushrooms and beef and continued to cook for a minute or two. I added the pearl barley and brought the flame down to low, put the lid on and simmered for 20 minutes.

After the first 20 minutes was up, I added about 1/2 cup of boiling water, stirred, and continued to cook for another 20 minutes letting the barley soften. I then checked it and decided to add another 1/2 cup boiling water, and cooked for another 15 minutes or so. Keeping the lid off at the end to let the "broth" reduce.

Even though I kept adding water throughout the cooking period, it didn't hinder the richness of the beef broth. On the contrary, cooking this way helped me control the consistency of the barley to slightly chewy, and the dried seasonings were very flavorful. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Now...bring on snow!

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