A perfect accompaniment to a rainy day, this hearty stew will warm you up from the inside out.
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 lb. beef for stew (usually chuck cubes)
6 Italian (pork) sausages, casing removed and cut into cubes
8-12 ounces of strong beer, dry white or red wine
8 cups of beef stock
Two sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 T fennel seeds
2 t ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 cup of dried pearled barley, washed thoroughly
Generous handful of Cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 C raw spinach, washed (optional)
Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, sauté the beef, sausage and onion over medium-high heat (keeping the alcohol and broth open, ready and nearby) for about five minutes, or until the onions are browned and the meats seared, but not cooked through.
Deglaze the pan with the alcohol, scraping the sides and bottom with a wooden spoon. Next add the broth, turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. While you’re waiting, add the rosemary, fennel, cumin, and bay leaf.
When the mixture reaches a boil, stir in the barely. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 60 minutes, or until the beef can be easily separated with a fork, adding water if needed to keep everything covered.
Fifteen minutes before serving, remove the rosemary sprigs and stir in the mushrooms and spinach.
Serve all by itself or with a fresh sprig of rosemary, a pinch of crushed red pepper and some crusty bread. (The photo above features my home-cultured sourdough ciabatta, a recipe which I’ll be sure to share in the near future.)