Rustic Lamb Stew and A Few Words About Soaking Grains


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Rustic Lamb Stew

This past week we saw some of the coldest days of the year.  Those kind days where you crave something nice and hot, something that warms one from the inside out.

Unfortunately, one of these days occurred  when I had not planned for something nice and hot.

We were nearing the end of our grocery cycle and there was little on  hand to work with.  At a loss,  I scanned the freezer and the cupboard for inspiration and, at the last minute, threw together a concoction that, had I tried, could not have been any more delicious.

This stew of sorts features lamb we had purchased from a local source and tomatoes canned from our garden:  a lovely reminder of last summer.  To fill out the pot,  I added some barley and potatoes.

Because this was so last minute, I had not the time to properly soak the barley.  If I was to do this over again, I would plan about 24 hours in advance, and soak the barley overnight according to the instructions below.

Rustic Lamb Stew

  • 1 pound of organic lamb stew meat
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 2 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 quart of whole tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 t of oregano
  • 1 t of dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Plan ahead: Soak the barley 24 hours in advance.  According to Nourishing Traditions, soaking whole grains in water and a small amount of acid helps to break down the phytic acid, thereby making the grains easier to digest and the nutrients easier assimilated. I use three cups of water for every one cup of barley, and would add 3 T of apple cider vinegar (one tablespoon per cup of liquid).  Combine the grain, the water, and the acid in a glass bowl, cover with a towel, and let it set overnight.

If you are new to traditional foods you can read more about them here. If you would like to learn more about traditional food preparation and hands-on training, I recommend the Fundamental e-courses provided through GNOWFGLINS.

To prepare the stew:

Drain and rinse the barley, catching the water in a glass measuring cup.  Check to see how much water you have, and then discard.  This step is optional.  You can soak the grains in the pot you plan to cook them in.  For this recipe however, I would not want the acidic taste of the vinegar ~ it is all a matter of personal choice and whatever is easiest on the cook.

Pour the same amount of water you discarded from the barley in a saucepan.  Add a small amount of sea salt and bring to a boil.  Add the barley, bring back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and let cook until barley is tender.  If you have not soaked your barley cooking time is anywhere from 40-60 minutes.  If you have soaked your barley, the cooking time will be reduced by about half.

In a large stockpot, brown the stew meat.  I did not trim the fat from the lamb and found it to be adequate but if you find that it sticks, a little bacon fat should work just fine.

Add the tomatoes, stirring to break up the pieces if necessary.  Add the onions, the crushed garlic, the potatoes, beef broth, wine, and seasoning.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until the potatoes and beef are tender.  Before serving, stir in the cooked barley.  Along with a nice loaf of bread and a great bottle of red wine this should serve 4-6.

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Rustic Lamb Stew and A Few Words About Soaking Grains — 6 Comments

  1. That looks and sounds delicious. I don’t have easy access to affordable clean lamb. We eat lots of vegetables and grains along with some fish, poultry and occasionally pork or beef. However, we just received half a heritage pig, cleanly raised, from a friend for our freezer and feel very blessed. So looks like pork stew will be on the menu. The heritage pork is very lean and a much darker meat than grocery store pork. Can’t wait to try it!

  2. When I make vegetable or vegetable beef soup, I often toss in a handful of barley. Another time, I’ll try soaking it first, and then adding it later in the cooking cycle. Thanks for the tip.

  3. This sounds delicious! Thanks for the tip and instructions on soaking grains. Your site is sooooooo beautiful. I always feel as though I’ve entered a peaceful, uncluttered, and homey place when it opens on my screen.