Dutch Oven · New England · recipe

Beef & Barley Soup in the Dutch Oven

Beef & Barley Soup–if you don’t count chowder–is quite possibly the quintessential New England soup.

But nowadays finding a good version can be difficult to find, except maybe in a can. And even the best canned soups are still too salty and tinny for regular consumption.

So, I set about making a healthy and easy Beef & Barley that would rival the ease of warming up a canned version and I think I’ve done it. Of course, I used my trusty Dutch Oven, but I also used my Instant Pot to make ready the beef.

I started with a small piece of meat that was intended as a small roast. I got it on sale for less than $4 and it weighed just under two pounds. Because I froze it when I bought it, I first defrosted it and then cooked it with a small amount of beef broth and some salt and pepper in the Instant Pot on the beef setting. Couldn’t be easier, but note that you could use a portion of roast beef leftovers if you have that.

Once the beef was cooked and had rested, I chopped it up in small pieces and tossed it into the Dutch Oven along with some tomato sauce, a box of beef broth and the drippings from the Instant Pot. I added a can of peas and carrots, but you could use fresh or frozen. It’s up to you, of course.

The Barley was cooked separately from a dried bag of the grain. If you’re wondering where you find dried Barley, check the dried beans section of your grocery store. Once cooked, add the Barley to the soup toward the end of the cooking to keep it from getting too soggy.

Small oyster crackers are the only thing you need to complete this wonderful, homey meal, which is perfect for a cold late Autumn supper.

One small points:

This soup is exceptionally economical. I figured the entire recipe cost me under ten dollars for ten servings!

Ingredients:

  • Small cut of roast beef, prepared either in an oven or Instant Pot, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • Box of beef broth
  • Small can of tomato sauce
  • Can of diced carrots and peas
  • About two cups of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Barley, 1 cup, dried and cooked separately with 2 1/2 cups water and salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook beef in Instant Pot with a small amount of beef broth and allow to rest OR use precooked cut of roast beef
  2. Slice and then dice the cooked beef and place in Dutch Oven with any pan drippings from the cooking of the beef
  3. Add tomato sauce, beef broth and water to the Dutch Oven and bring contents to boil on the stovetop
  4. Reduce heat to allow the soup to slowly boil off some of the added water and thicken, about 1 hour
  5. Meanwhile in a separate pan, bring the dried Barley to boil with 2 1/2 cups water and salt to taste; cook for 45 minutes
  6. After cooking off some of the liquid, add the can of peas and carrots and the Barley
  7. Allow soup to simmer for an hour or more so that all the flavors meld together
  8. Serve with small oyster crackers

recipe

Mouth-Watering Chicken Marinade

I’ve used this marinade for both boneless breasts and bone-in wings/drummies and it always tastes delicious.

For best results, marinate your chicken pieces overnight; the marinade will really penetrate through the chicken!

I got an air fryer a few weeks ago and I used it to cook my marinated chicken and it came out fabulously!

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil (any kind/I used corn oil)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped

I mix all the marinade ingredients in a large zippy bag and in shaking it. Then I toss in the chicken and marinate in the fridge. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

I was able to marinate about a pound of chicken breast AND a large portion of chicken drumsticks with one portion of marinade, because I reused it.

You can reuse marinade, just don’t use it on cooked chicken!

Dutch Oven · recipe

Beef Stroganoff in the Dutch Oven

Beef Stroganoff in the Dutch Oven
Beef Stroganoff in the Dutch Oven

It was Sunday night–the day before my usual shopping day–and I found myself with some defrosted stew beef and not much else.  So I grabbed a few ingredients and whipped up a Sunday Supper of Beef Stroganoff in my Dutch Oven.  It was simple and satisfying.

Ingredients:

  • About 2 pounds of cubed stew beef
  • Some flour
  • Olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
  • Some fresh white mushrooms (canned if you don’t have fresh)
  • Red wine, about 2 cups
  • Beef broth, about 32 oz.
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

 

Instructions:

  1. Pat your stew beef dry with a paper towel.  Make sure you dry all sides of the beef.  Salt and pepper the beef.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a Dutch Oven.  Add your beef–in small batches so as to not crowd the pan–and sear the cubed beef on all sides.  You are just searing the beef right now; you will cook it fully later.  Searing locks in the flavor of the meat.
  3. Remove the beef and add the sliced mushrooms.  Stir to cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add the beef back in to the Dutch Oven.  Add the red wine and beef broth.
  5. Cover and allow to cook over medium heat for about two hours.  You want your stew to reduce by half.
  6. Remove about half a cup of juices from the pot and mix thoroughly with a tablespoon or two of flour.  When thoroughly mixed, pour into your pot and cook for about ten minutes.  This will thicken your sauce.
  7. Remove another half cup of juices from the pot and mix with sour cream.  When thoroughly mixed, pour the sour cream mixture back into your pot and stir to combine.
  8. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.
  9. Plate up your stroganoff with some buttered noodles.  Be sure to add some of the delicious gravy to the plate.

A simple but delicious Sunday night meal!

 

 

Dutch Oven

Why I love my Dutch Oven

Dutch Oven
My Dutch Oven turns out loaf after loaf of beautiful bread! And so easy!!

If you’re just tuning in, you might be wondering what my current infatuation with the Dutch Oven is all about.   Just a few months ago, I didn’t fully understand what a Dutch Oven was, nor did I think every home cook should have one…but I’ve since changed my mind.

The basics:

Let’s start with the basics.  A Dutch Oven is not an oven and I’m not sure if it’s even a Dutch invention. A Dutch Oven is a large, heavy pot with a tight fitting lid that can be used on the stovetop and in the oven.  Originally created to be used with open flames, Dutch Ovens are exceptionally versatile; almost any cooking task can be performed with a Dutch Oven.

Most of today’s Dutch ovens are made from cast iron and then coated–at an extremely high temperature–with enamel.  The enamel elevates the pot from a Pioneer mainstay to a workhorse in today’s kitchen, because clean up is a breeze.  With the enameled pot, you don’t have to worry about seasoning your cast iron or even rusting.  Most of the enamel covering resists chipping or cracking even at high temperatures, which makes an enamel coated Dutch Oven practically indestructible. Once you acquire a Dutch Oven, you won’t need to replace it. Ever. You could probably even pass it on to someone when your cooking days are over!

 

Why am I just finding out about Dutch Ovens?

To be honest, I’ve been aware of the King of Dutch Ovens–Le Creuset–but they’ve always been WAY out of my price range. I’m not saying they aren’t worth it, but I just could never afford one. But nowadays Dutch Ovens are made by all kinds of manufacturers, not just Le Creuset, and the price difference is astronomical. A new Le Creuset costs more than $300, but you can now find a perfectly acceptable Dutch Oven for well under a hundred dollars. My first Dutch Oven is from the Food Network. It retails for $100, but my sister got it with one of those Christmas sales and % off offers, bringing the price down to below fifty dollars. What a bargain!!

In addition to the substantial price tag, I avoided getting one, because I thought I could do it all with a good slow cooker and my everyday pots and pans.

I was wrong.

 

My first Dutch Oven
This is my first Dutch Oven hard at work

 

Although I still love my slow cooker, meals cooked in a Dutch Oven actually taste better than those prepared in a slow cooker. Which brings me to the top reasons why I’ve been choosing a Dutch Oven over my slow cooker.

 

Beef Stew
Flavorful beef and complex taste are the result of using a Dutch Oven instead of a slow cooker

Taste:

The one thing I never cared for with slow cooking is how it cooked meats. If you really want flavorful meats, you need to brown them first and that’s something the slow cooker just doesn’t do. Sure, you could brown your meat on the stove first, but that means dirtying another pan and that takes the convenience out of slow cooking.

With the Dutch Oven, you can start your meat-based meal on the stove top and then effortlessly transfer it to the oven for a nice even cook.  No extra pans to clean and all of those flavors are locked in!

 

Faster:

Slow cookers are, well, slow. That’s the beauty of them, of course. Cooking your food slow is convenient for the working cook and it allows for more tender meats, but the long cook can be difficult to time and not always convenient for someone trying to get a meal on the table.  Plus slow cookers have difficulty with certain foods such as fish, pasta and dairy.  Dutch Ovens heats evenly–just like a slow cooker–but it does it faster. My traditional Italian Vegetable Soup and also my Beef Stew we’re ready hours faster than the slow cooker version–plus I was able to brown the meat first, which goes to my point of taste (see above).

 

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Versatility:

Dutch Ovens are capable of just about everything!  Soups and stews requiring a long, slow cooking time are a snap, but the Dutch Oven can easily handle frying, baking and roasting with ease!  They heat food evenly, so you don’t have to hover over your stovetop.  The tight-fitting lid traps in the heat, too.   Dutch Ovens can go from your stove top directly to the oven without worry.  Plus they are so easy to clean!  And, because of the myriad colors available, they are attractive compliments to your kitchen.  Actually since receiving it, my Dutch Oven has only left my stove top for cleaning–which is good because they are heavy!

 

Crusty Loaf
This gorgeous loaf of bread was cooked in the Dutch Oven!

The bread!

I’m not going to lie, I love making bread.  The entire experience is just wonderful!  But bread making was always so time consuming!  When I was in a pinch, I did what we all do…bought bread at the bakery or grocery store.

But there is nothing more satisfying than making your own bread.  Plus if you make your own bread, you will win the respect and admiration of your entire family!  Believe me!

One of the first things I made in my Dutch Oven was a loaf of bread and after that, I was completely hooked!  Interestingly the Dutch Oven is *perfect* for creating and sealing in the steam that makes the outside of your bread so crusty and delicious.  Here are two bread recipes I’ve done in my Dutch Oven–Crusty Bread in a Dutch Oven and Recipe: Crusty Italian Bread in the Dutch Oven

 

And that, my friends, is why I have fallen in love with my Dutch Oven.  Do you have a Dutch Oven, too?  Why not let me know what you use yours for!

recipe

Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms

stuffed mushrooms

Mushrooms are a lowly thing and yet can be so satisfying.  When cooked, their flesh feels like a meat, so they are excellent vehicles for a meatless meal.

Today I am presenting a Stuffed Mushroom recipe that elevates the common white mushroom to a satisfying meal or appetizer.

The first step to making a delicious Stuffed Mushroom is to start with a fresh container of medium sized white mushrooms.  White mushrooms should not be washed, but you can lightly brush away any growing medium that you might find in the container.

Now it’s time to separate the cap from the stem.  You can do this by holding the mushroom cap with the fingers of your left hand.  Then grasp the stem with your right fingers and wiggle it a bit, side to side.  The stem should pop off easily.  Do this for all your mushrooms and set the caps aside.

Mushroom Caps
Mushroom caps with stems removed

 

Mince the removed stems.  Peel and mince a medium sized shallot and a couple cloves of garlic.  You can use pre-minced garlic if you prefer.

Mince mushroom stems and a shallot
Mince stems and a medium sized shallot

 

Warm your sauté pan over medium heat and then add some olive oil and some butter.  Add your minced mushroom stems, shallots and garlic to the pan and gently sauté until they soften and release their moisture.  Add about a half cup of panko to firm up the mixture.  Don’t forget to season your sauté  with salt and pepper.

saute
Saute your minced stems and shallots in olive oil and butter

Once you’ve finished sautéing, remove the mixture to a bowl and begin stuffing your mushrooms.  I like to use a little spoon to stuff the mushroom caps.    Lightly push the filling into the cap, but don’t force it.

Place the stuffed caps on a small pan.  I used the pan that came with my toaster oven, but an 8″ x 8″ squared pan will also do nicely.

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Before cooking them for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven, I like to drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil on top.

Completed stuffed mushrooms
Fully cooked stuffed mushrooms

 

Transfer the cooked mushrooms from the pan to a plate for serving.

These are nice as an appetizer or a meatless entree served with a salad.

IMG_7600