Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew

A slow cooker is nice to come home to and the ideal appliance for cooking less tender but flavourful cuts of meat. Barley, a good source of fibre, thickens the stew without the need for flour. Serve this warming comfort food over mashed potatoes or with thick slabs of crusty whole-grain bread.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Crockpot Time: 8 to 10 hours

1 lb (500 g) Ontario Stewing Beef cubes
2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
2 Ontario Onions, chopped
2 Ontario Carrots, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) beef broth
1/2 cup (125 mL) pot or pearl barley, rinsed
1 tbsp (15 mL) each packed brown sugar, tomato paste and red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas, thawed

Cooking Instructions:
Trim any excess fat from beef, cut any large pieces smaller. Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; cook beef until browned, in 2 batches if necessary. Transfer to slow cooker.

Add remaining oil to pan; cook onions and carrots a few minutes until lightly softened. Stir in broth, barley, brown sugar, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, thyme and pepper; bring to simmer. Pour into slow cooker; cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours (or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours) until beef and barley are tender. Turn off slow cooker. Stir in peas and let stand for 10 minutes to heat peas