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Stick to Your Ribs Beef and Barley Soup

This may be my absolute favorite soup. Beef and barley soup offers up everything I like about a soup. Rich, hearty stock, flavor meat and vegetables and the barley just seems to pull it all together to make a fantastic meal overall. We made a batch of this soup a week or so ago and froze leftovers just so we could have it again another time. I actually made my own beef stock to make this one using the prime rib bones I had from the holidays so the stock had even better flavor and I didn’t need to follow the stock recipe that is included in this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. If you don’t have your own beef stock, try making this one because it will help add a good depth of flavor to the stock beyond what you get from any store-bought stock.

Beef and Barley Soup

For the Stock:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

1 large onion, chopped

1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup dry red wine

8 cups water

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1 large celery rib, chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons salt

2 bay leaves

For the Soup:

1 pound sirloin steak tips, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dry red wine

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 cup pearl barley

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

To prepare the stock, heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the mushrooms and the chopped onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned and a golden brown fond has formed on the bottom of the pot, about 8 to 12 minutes. Stir in the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon until the meat is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the red wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until it is nearly evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the 8 cups of water, the chopped carrot, celery, soy sauce, salt and bay leaves and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, skimming as needed, until the stock tastes rich and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. Allow the stock to settle for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the fat from the stock by skimming with a wide, shallow spoon or using a fat separator. Set the stock aside.

To prepare the soup, pat the sirloin steak tips dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is well browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, reducing the heat if the pot is beginning to scorch. transfer the browned meat to a medium bowl and repeat the process with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and the remaining beef. transfer the second batch of browned meat to the bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the now-empty Dutch oven and heat over medium heat until it is shimmering. Add the cremini mushrooms and the chopped onion and cook until they are softened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic clove and the thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the all-purpose flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the red wine, scraping up any browned bits and cook until the wine is nearly evaporated, about 1 minute.

Stir in the reserved beef stock, the drained diced tomatoes, carrots, celery, pearl barley, bay leaves and the meat along with any accumulated meat juices in the bowl. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the meat, barley and vegetables are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Off the heat, remove the bay leaves. Stir in the fresh minced parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

A couple of quick notes about the recipe. If you don’t want to cook with the red wine, leave it out or substitute water or extra beef stock. You might lose a bit of flavor but not that much. I used plain white mushrooms instead of cremini because I can’t always get cremini around here. even if you don’t really like mushrooms, they really do add some great flavor to this soup so you should try to keep them in. Michelle doesn’t like to eat mushrooms, but we still use them for the flavor and she eats around them. You also want to make sure you cut everything to uniform sizes so it all cooks evenly. One thing to know about any leftovers or if you are cooking this ahead of time – barley will keep absorbing liquid as it sits, so be prepared for that. It’s best to eat this the same day you make it or know you will have to add stock when you re-heat and the barley will be a bit bloated. Other than that, this is a great filling soup that everyone seems to enjoy and it is one of my favorites every time.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then,enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, One Pot Meals, Soups & Stews

 

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Making Some Homemade Staples (No, Not the Metal Kind…)

Since we’re going to be heading out to the Winter Carnival in Saranac Lake today, I won’t be cooking any dinner. I thought today might be a good day to show a couple of simple recipes to make some of the homemade ingredients I use on a regular basis, like breadcrumbs and broth. None of these recipes are hard to make, and while the broth can take a little time to accomplish, it is absolutely worth it to have around and tastes so much better than store-bought. Making your own chicken broth can be accomplished in a couple of ways. One method uses a left over chicken carcass from a whole roasted chicken. This method can take hours and I do this when I know I have the time to let it sit on the stove. The second method I use is much quicker and tastes just as good. For this method I use some drumsticks for making the stock.We’ll just cover the quick one today.

Chicken Broth

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 pounds chicken legs

1 onion, quartered

1 carrot, cut into chunks

1 rib celery, cut into chunks

 2 quarts water

2 teaspoons salt

2 bay leaves

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking. Brown half of the chicken on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining chicken and transfer to the bowl. Pour off the fat from the pot. Return all the chicken to the pot and stir in the onion, carrot and celery. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Stir in the water, salt and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes. Strain the broth into a large container, and let stand for 10 minutes before skimming the fat. Remove the meat from the bones and reserve separately.

Chicken legs are relatively inexpensive and great for using to make some stock if you don’t have the chicken carcass. They also give the broth, a nice, rich, meaty flavor and you can save the meat off the bones to use for soup if you like. This broth can be easily frozen and will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

The next stock to make would be some shrimp stock. This is probably the easiest stock to make out of something you would normally throw away without thinking twice. You can use this as a good substitute when recipes call for a fish stock.

Shrimp Stock

Shells from 1 to 2 pounds shrimp

1/2 onion, sliced

1/2 carrot, sliced

1/2 celery stalk, sliced

Combine all the ingredients and add 4 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to very low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.. Cool slightly, then strain, pressing on the shells to extract as much juice as possible. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a few weeks.

After chicken and shrimp, you can always make some vegetable broth. Again, it’s a very simple process using what you already have in the house and doesn’t take long to complete.

Vegetable Stock

4 large carrots, sliced

2 large onions, chopped

1 large potato, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

5 or 6 cloves of garlic

10 to medium button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (optional)

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and add 14 cups of water and some pepper. Bring to a boil and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily but gently and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender (Longer is better if you have the time). Cool slightly, then strain, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much juice as possible. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Finally, I do occasionally make my own beef stock. If you have any meat bones to use, or scraps or inexpensive cuts of meat, you can do this at home. I find store-bought beef broth is okay, as long as you get the lower sodium, but if you can make it, then why not?

Beef Stock

3 to 4 pounds meaty beef bones, like shank, shin, tail or short ribs

2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste

3 cloves

10 peppercorns

Rinse the bones well under cold running water. then transfer to a large stockpot and add the remaining ingredients. Add about 16 cups of water, enough to cover by a couple of inches. Bring just about to a boil, then partially cover and adjust the heat so the mixture sends up a few bubbles at a time. Cook, skimming off any foam that accumulates at the top, until the meat falls from the bones and the bones separate from one another, 2 to 3 hours. Cool slightly, then strain, pressing on the vegetables and meat to extract as much juice as possible. Taste and add salt if necessary. Use immediately or refrigerate (skim off any hardened fat from the surface) and use within 4 to 5 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Other than stock, the other staple I make at home is breadcrumbs. I use breadcrumbs a lot for coating, binding or as a crunchy topping. They are really simple to make and the only work on your part is pulling out the food processor. I prefer to use white bread for breadcrumbs; it seems to have the best texture.

Homemade Breadcrumbs

Tear pieces of sandwich bread into quarters and pulse in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 8 pulses. One slice of bread should yield about 1 cup.

If you want dried breadcrumbs, you can either just use some stale bread in the food processor, or take the fresh breadcrumbs you made, sprinkle them on a baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven until dry, about 15 to 30 minutes.

Dried breadcrumbs can be stored in a zip-lock bag or container at room temperature for about 1 month, while fresh can be stored for about 1 week. You could freeze either one for about 3 months, just allow about 30 minutes of thawing at room temperature before you use them.

So that’s it for the staples for today. They are quick ways to get some fresh, homemade ingredients that you’ll find yourself using quite often. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my Chicken Corn Chowder recipe that we brought for Winter Carnival, and good thing since it’s about 10 degrees up here! See you tomorrow!

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Pantry, Poultry, Soups & Stews, Vegetables

 

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