Slow-cooker beef and barley stew

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A slow cooker is ideal for cooking less tender but still flavourful cuts of meat. Barley thickens the stew without the need for flour, and is a good source of fibre. Serve home economist Barb Holland’s warming, comfort food over mashed potatoes or with crusty whole grain bread. From Homegrown: Celebrating the Canadian Foods We Grow, Raise and Produce.

Slow-cooker beef and barley stew

Serves 6 
One serving = 1 1/2 cups


1 lb lean stewing beef
2 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed well, peel left on, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced and set aside
1/3 cup pot or pearl barley, rinsed
2 cups low-sodium or no-salt-added beef broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp iodized salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup frozen peas, thawed


1. Trim any excess fat from beef and cut any large pieces into smaller pieces.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef until browned (in 2 batches if necessary). Transfer to slow cooker.

3. Add remaining oil to skillet, then add onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook a few minutes, until lightly softened.

4. Stir in barley, broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, thyme and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then pour into slow cooker.

5. Cover and cook on low. 8 to 10 hours (or on high for 4 to 5 hours), until beef and barley are tender.

6. Turn off slow cooker, stir in peas and let stand 10 minutes to heat peas.

Note: Tomato paste in tubes is handy to have on hand (keep refrigerated) for when you only need a small amount. Otherwise, freeze the remaining contents of a small can of tomato paste in 1 tablespoon amounts, wrap well and freeze.