Beef and Barley Casserole

Pearl Barley is one of the most grossly underused carbs in the culinary world.  Its texture is comparable to a slightly more al-dente risotto rice but with a fluffier exterior.  It both provides a wonderful filler and helps thicken the sauce to a luxurious consistency.


The marriage of beef and barley strikes up gorgeous ideas of a Spring morning on a golden farm for me, and this really is a good comfort food.  I use a slow cooker but you can certainly simmer this IMAG1347on the stove on a low heat.

I’m sticking with the Wychwood Brewery beer, trying out their Ruby Ale.


  • Beef Steak
  • Pearl Barley (yes, your supermarket has it.  I promise)
  • Chopped Onion
  • Crushed Garlic
  • Stewing Vegetables -parsnips, swede, carrots
  • Earthy Herbs – Rosemary/Sage/Thyme
  • Ale
  • Seasoning
  • Sugar
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Flour
  • Oil


  1. Season your steak with salt, pepper and flour.
  2. Heat some oil in a deep pan at a high heat.  Quickly brown the meat – you don’t want it to cook through or you’ll make the meat horribly tough.
  3. Remove the steak and add the chopped onion.  Saute until browned and add a more seasoning/herbs – a little salt to draw out the moisture and a handful of herbs.  Remember this is making a large portion of casserole so add more than you think you need.
  4. Mix in some crushed garlic and a spoonful or two of tomato paste.  Stir through and cook for a minute or two more – you don’t want the paste to scorch too much.
  5. Mix through a few spoonfuls of flour until you have a thick paste mixture, before adding the tinned tomatoes and the beer.  Add a little sugar to take the edge off the tomatoes.
  6. If you are not using a slow cooker, simply add the remaining vegetables and turn the pot to a very low simmer, with the lid on.
    Add your vegetables to the slow cooker and pour over the stew mixture.  Cook at high for 4 hours or low for 8 (roughly).
  7. In the last quarter of cooking time add the pearl barley and stir through.  When the sauce has thickened and the barley softened, salt to taste.

Serving and Storage

This is absolutely lovely in a bowl on its own, or with a little sour cream on top.  This was also gorgeous on top of some creamy mashed potato (courtesy of Piebury Corner)


This will keep in the fridge for one or two days, but the flavours can sour a little after that point.

It’s not too late to enjoy a winter stew!  The weather’s cold and the food is warm – let us know what stews you would like.

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