Beef Barley FAIL

I read a lot of food blogs, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that everyone has kitchen failures sometimes, and they’re not because you can’t follow instructions, or you accidentally burn something. Sometimes a recipe is just not that good. Recently one of the authors of one of those blogs included a short list of recent failures to cheer up some readers who felt like it would be impossible to turn out such consistently amazing meals. I thought I would share a recent kitchen fail of my own here.

I rarely cook with beef, but a few weeks ago it was on sale and I picked some up, thinking I could make a beef stew in my crockpot before winter was out. I chopped it up (what a pain in the butt) and froze it, and then pulled out half of it last week to make this beef barley stew in my crockpot. This wasn’t the recipe I’d been thinking of when I got the beef – I have several pulled aside, but I also wanted to make something that didn’t require buying a lot of extra ingredients. Google to the rescue.Anyway, it was great that night for dinner when I got home – warm and hearty, and reminiscent of the kinds of things my mom makes for the family (my dad is a very plain, potatoes and meat kinda guy). I looked forward to having it for several more lunches and dinners (the default recipe makes 10 servings). But the next night for dinner, I discovered that the barley soaked up almost all of the remaining broth, and I have been left with a rather unappetizing, beige, gloppy stew. (Thank heaven for the carrots, otherwise there would be no color.) That was not necessarily surprising, but I never would have expected it would soak up basically all of the broth. I also realized that second night that there isn’t a whole lot of flavor to this – it’s very plain-tasting, which is fine . . . except when you have nine more servings to go. Maybe it’s  more beefy tasting if you use beef broth (I used vegetable) but who knows. Having just finished lunch, I now have four servings to go (half the leftovers went straight in the freezer). We’ll see how many of them I can actually force myself to eat. (It’ll be at least two, since there are 2.5 work days left this week . . . not that I am counting or anything.)

Sadly, I do not have an appropriate palate cleanser available right now. Maybe tomorrow I will pack a couple of Samoas.

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3 thoughts on “Beef Barley FAIL

  1. Huh. I’m surprised to hear that. There must be something you can do – I mean, they put barley in canned soup all the time…maybe I don’t want to know how they keep solid…

  2. The barley held together, but it’s super mushy from having sucked up all the broth, and the starch has thickened what little is left quite a lot. Initially I was thinking that if I made it again I’d just use half as much barley as the recipe calls for, since there has to be a limit to how much it can soak up.

  3. Ok for your next trick you should make this: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/chicken-with-prunes-pollo-alle-prugne-recipe/index.html

    Soooo frickin’ good. We substituted for what we had in the house (onions for leeks and shallots, salt pork for speck, drumsticks for the whole chicken) and it was fabu. I could see cutting this down by half or even fourths and it would be faster and you wouldn’t have tons of left overs. Although, I am jazzed to be writing this b/c I just finished leftovers of said meal. Hmmm, next time you come we’ll have to drink wine and chat while this braises. mmmmm, soo good!

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