I love to come home to a house full of wonderful aromas and a hot, home-cooked meal. That's why I practically worship my slow cookers. One is usually bubbling away with chicken or beef bones for stock, but the other is reserved for magicking up dinner while I'm off at the office or running after my kids.
Delicious, easy comfort food doesn't get much better than this slow cooker beef and mushroom stew. You could take the time to brown the meat and sauté the mushrooms and onions, but I find this dish is just as flavorful and is much less fuss when you just throw it all in the crock pot and come back later.
A smattering of barley gives just enough starch to slightly thicken the liquid in this dish. I prefer using pearled barley as opposed to the whole grain/hulled versions. Though slightly less nutritious, when the bran is removed the barley does NOT have to be soaked to improve it's digestibility. Since the rest of the dish is so nutrient-dense I don't think twice about this short-cut.
If you prefer a whole grain barley, I suggest first soaking it overnight, then rinsing it well before cooking.
Slow cooker beef and mushroom stew ingredients
- 2 pounds stew meat, cubed
- 2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
- 2 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 (28 oz.) can whole stewed tomatoes, drained
- 1/3 cup pearled barley
- 2 cups beef bone broth – learn how to make beef bone broth here
- A few sprigs thyme, tied with twine
- Good quality salt and pepper to taste – this is my favorite sea salt
If you will be gone all day, make sure you have a crock pot that will switch to warm after cooking time is done. This is the programmable slow cooker that I use.
Slow cooker beef and mushroom stew method
- Place all ingredients except for barley in the slow cooker set to low and cover.
- After 4 hours, add the pearled barley and continue cooking – or if you will be away all day, simply add the barley in step 1.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours until meat pulls apart easily with a fork.
- Adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.