Sous vide beef barley stew is cooked with beef from the Blackford Farm in Armstrong, Illinois.
A two hour trip from Chicago; Armstrong is a rural village of about 400 people in Vermilion County, where the land is flat and the corn grows tall. Every fall I visit the farm to go deer hunting. I love the farm, the countryside and everything it has to offer. Fields of clover, ryegrass, dandelion, alfalfa and wild flowers, plenty of fresh air in other words – the real thing.
At the farm, the cows are big, the bulls are even bigger and the grass is green. I have to admit, sometimes when I cross the pasture to get to the deer stand the big bull makes me really nervous. I have learned to talk to him on my way to and from the stand. I call him big boy, it seems that talking works and has put both of us at ease with each other.
The farm is owned by Brian and his wife Brenda where they have been farming and raising cattle for 40 years. Their cows are fed grain, as well as grass hay and are free of any growth hormones and antibiotics. You are what you eat and that applies to cows too.
What is Barley:
Barley is actually one of the oldest consumed grains in the world. It was a staple grain for peasants during medieval times for centuries. This recpie is using pearl barley, the most common form of barley. Although it is technically a reﬁned grain, it’s much healthier than other reﬁned grains. Barley is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and might lower cholesterol and blood pressure. One-cup serving of cooked barley has less calories, but more fiber, than an equal serving of quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet or wild rice. I love the light nutty taste and you can season it with just about everything. You will find barley year around in my pantry. It is actually a very forgiving grain to cook with. Did you know that most barley in the United States is converted into malt for beer production or fed to animals. If you want to know more about all the different kinds of barley that are available? Check the Whole Grains Council webpage for answers.
Why toast Barley:
You may be surprised by the depth of flavor that toasting grains will add to your dish. As with toasting or roasting spices and nuts, toasting grains before cooking can enhance the nutty flavor of the grains, adding an extra layer to your dish. Simply heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat, toast the barley in a dry sauté pan 3 to 5 minutes, shaking and stirring regularly, until the barly smells nutty. Don’t toast too long or you will end up with a bitter flavor.
What is sous vide cooking:
Sous vide cooking, a secret of Chefs from around the world, has only recently been available to home cooks through the passion and innovation of people demanding more for their home cooking experience.
Years ago, purchasing a sous vide machine was an expensive undertaking. Now you can find great deals like the ANOVA immersion circulator for around $100.00; a unit I use extensively at home. The Anova online recipe data base has great recipes from how to cook Japanese egg custard, to salmon, to the best steak ever. I promise you, it will impress your guests with an unusual cooking method. You can cook sous vide for two hours or 72 hours depending on what you cook.
To find out more information on cooking times, download the times and the temperature chart from HERE . The Anova immersion circulator is listed as one of the best sous vide machines available.
In regards to the type of plastic bags used for sous vide cooking, they are made exclusively for cooking sous vide and are perfectly safe; as are zip-lock bags.
Zip-lock bags are perfectly safe for sous vide cooking . The have been studied extensively and are safe to use. In regards to heat and cooking sous vide with zip – lock bags, most sous vide cooking temperatures are below 190 degrees so you shouldn’t need to worry about melting.
In case you have a vaccum sealer and want to use the sealer for sous vide cooking here is a link for great sous vide bags that are boilable, freezable, reusable and dish washer safe.
Why sous vide for the home cook:
My immersion circulator gives me total control to deliver the most tender flavorful restaurant quality food ever. Cuts of meat like beef chuck are a perfect example and this is where the sous vide cooking method excels. It produces an amazing end product that will change the way you cook tougher or cheaper cuts of meat forever. Sous vide is a French cooking technique, which translates to “under vacuum.” In this technique food is vacuum-sealed in a cooking pouch and heated up at a precise temperature in a water bath. A sous vide water bath is just as easy to use as any slow cooker. Instead of relying on perfect timing, sous vide relies on precise temperature control. You simply set the machine and can expect the technique to deliver consistent, perfect results. No more chewy chicken and over cooked asparagus. Sous vide meat is tender and moist, and vegetables retain their crunch and color with consistently great results. Food will cook all the way through evenly at a low and slow temperature; it’s virtually impossible to overcook food in a water bath.
Keep it real:
I have been cooking healthier food for the last 15 years and learning what you should and should not eat. Whole foods, it’s all in the name. These are natural foods that are as close to their natural form as possible and undergo only the bare minimum of processing (if any). Focus on eating more vegetables, more whole foods, less added sugar and less refined grains. In this recipe, I use my homemade chicken stock . However, if you prefer to use a beef or a vegetable stock that would work just fine, too. Keep it real, look at the ingredients in this recipe. Everything you’ll need to prepare this dish you can easily find in your local supermarket.
Blackford Farm Sous Vide Cooked Beef Barley Stew
Delicious, clean flavor of beef and vegetables. The addition of fennel seeds kicks everything up a notch.
The perfect bowl of stew for the cold winter months.
By purchasing a good quality beef chuck and cooking sous vide, the stew is so easy to make.
Cuts like beef stew meat, that is where the sous vide cooking method will excel
and produce one of the most tender meats ever.
The immersion circulator warms a water bath to any low temperature you set, and it will keep it there for hours, or even days, and frees you from the tyranny of the clock.
Invest in an immersion circulator. I promise you, it will impress your guests with an unusual cooking method.
Cooking sous vide isn’t complicated or expensive. It will expand the world of cooking great food.
You can easily adjust this recipe to a vegetarian stew.