Blackford Farm Sous Vide Beef Barley Stew


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 wildflowers, 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.

Beef Stew

The Farm

The farm is owned by Brian and his wife Brenda who 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.

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

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 recipe 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 fewer 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.

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

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, and toast the barley in a dry sauté pan for 3 to 5 minutes, shaking and stirring regularly, until the barley smells nutty. Don’t toast too long or you will end up with a bitter flavor.

Why 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 database 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.

Zip-Lock bags:

Plastic bags used for sous vide cooking, 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. They 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 vacuum 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 dishwasher 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. 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 overcooked 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.

Beef Stew

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 beef or 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

The Taste

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.

The Process

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.

The Verdict

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.

Beef Stew

Blackford Farm Sous Vide Cooked Beef Barley Stew

Chef Norbert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 7 Servings
Calories 456 kcal



Cook beef sous vide

  • Cut beef into 1/2 inch cubes. In a bowl, season cubed beef with salt and cracked black pepper. Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place in bag and vacuum seal. Cook sous vide at 140 F for 48 hours. Remove cooked stew meat from the bag, reserve cooking liquid, and place meat in the cooler for later use. Pour the cooking liquid into a skillet and place over medium-high heat. Bring the cooking liquid to boil and skim off any foam and fat that rises to the surface. Strain and set aside.
    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme leaves, 1 sprig rosemary, fresh  , 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground, 2 lbs beef chuck

Brown beef in Dutch oven

  • Heat Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 of cooked beef stew and sauté until meat turns brown on all sides. Remove meat from pan and repeat procedure with remaining beef, remove from pan. Do not overcook the meat, you only want to add a nice brown color to the stew meat.
    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add diced onion and caramelize onions lightly over medium heat. Add celery, carrots, red chili pepper flakes, fennel seeds, garlic, and cook vegetables for about 5 minutes. Add barley, diced tomatoes, and chicken stock.
    1 medium onion, 1 cup celery, 1 cup carrots, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 cup barley, 1 can tomatoes diced, 1 tbsp garlic, 1 quart chicken stock, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Bring to a boil, add reserved cooking liquid and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until barley is tender or about 45 minutes. Add drained, rinsed chickpeas and the cooked beef, heat through. Fold fresh spinach into the stew, once spinach is wilted, serve. FYI, the stew can get too thick during the cooking process, add stock if necessary.
    3 cups spinach fresh, 1 can chickpeas canned


Serving: 17 ounce | Calories: 456kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 676mg | Potassium: 986mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate

Keyword Fall, Meat, Winter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Join the Conversation

  1. What do you do with the skimmed cooking liquid from the Sous Vide? Add into stew with the meat or the chicken stock?

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Thank you for a great question, Please add to the stew it would be a shame not to use that wonderful cooking liquid.

  2. I make this monthly. Incredible flavor and healthy. The fennel is the secret. (well, and the sous vide)

    1. Norbert Author says:

      James, agreed the Fennel kicks it up a notch 🙂 Glad that you enjoy the recipe and thank you for the feedback

  3. Casey Bee says:

    Er, Farro or Barley?

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Great Catch, I cooked it with both. In the recipe I use barley.
      Thank your for the feed back

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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