Beef and Barley Daub – Know Your Frenemy

They say that one is lucky to be able to count one’s friends on the fingers of one hand, even if one is unlucky enough to have suffered a gory industrial accident that trimmed a couple of digits. But, we can all take comfort in the knowledge that our supermarket has our back. They love us. They send us money back vouchers and offer us tasty bits of cake as we enter the store. They always have smiling people in the promos on Facebook. They even go to the trouble of taking out full page advertisements in the Sunday papers to let us know the great offers that they have set aside for us. They are our friends after all. That’s the sort of thing friends do.

But, they have a dark side. They are also our enemies. They go out of their way to confuse us with a mix of complex unit pricing, percentage discounts, price by weight, buy “2 get 1 free”, “3 for the price of 4” and numerous other nefarious tricks that I don’t have the time to outline. They constantly do stuff to bamboozle the customers they say they value. They don’t value us at all. They only value our money. They are, in modern parlance, the frenemy and need to be treated as such.

Having got that rant off my chest, here’s a recipe for a traditional Beef and Barley Daub. The rant was brought on by not being able to get barley in four different stores (the two largest chains in Ireland and two health food stores). I finally got “Organic” barley at an eye watering price in a third health food store.


  • 1.5 kilo of Chunky diced beef (shin is excellent)
  • 250 grams of ground beef
  • 200 grams of overpriced, organic, barley
  • 1 litre of good quality beef stock
  • 1 generous glass of red wine
  • 2 onions
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • A small bit of cooking oil

Toss the beef cubes in seasoned flour. Brown the beef cubes, in batches, in a casserole dish. Do likewise with the ground beef. Reserve both. While the beef is browning, busy yourself by chopping up the onion, carrot and celery into small pieces.

The basis of any good stew. A mirepoix, as the French might say.

Sweat these down, in a little more oil, in the same casserole as the beef. When the onion is translucent, add back the beef. Also add the tomato paste, the bay leafs, the stock, the wine and the extortionate barley.

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Bring this to a gentle boil on the stovetop. Add an extra half litre of water to thin down the mixture. Bear in mind that the extortionate barley will add thickness to the stew in inverse proportion to the thinning of your wallet. Pop the covered casserole into a 150ºC /300ºF oven for three hours.

Take it out and serve with some nice potatoes (mash can be really indulgent with this.) The barley is well worth adding. It thickens the overall stew. The barley also has a nice sweet nuttiness and texture that is really pleasant.

Trust me with this recipe. I am your friend. Don’t trust your frenemy supermarket who will try and sell you a load of stuff you neither want or need. They will put the highest priced stuff on the eye level shelf and hide away the value equivalent on either the top or bottom shelf out of sight and often out of reach. They do this while telling you they really value your custom. They don’t. They value your hard earned cash falling onto the bottom line, nothing else. If they did, they wouldn’t treat us the way they do.

Footnote on Daub V Stew

This is hardly worth a footnote but you are here now. A daub is a thick stew. The combination of the seasoning flour and the thickening properties of the barley bring this delight into daub territory. All the better for it too.


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Latest comments
  • It’s 55p for half a kilo in my supermarket but you probably don’t want to hear that, and I know you don’t want food parcels in the distant future when you want to cook a dish NOW. Sorry. A fine stew though and as I think you once said in response to something I cooked, good to see barley being used for something other than soups. Lx

  • Same here – barley is cheap as chips and available from many supermarkets – I suppose it’s not very popular in Ireland…
    Your beef and barley daub looks delicious, regardless.

      • Perhaps your recipes will encourage more people to try them.

  • That is a fine looking beef and barley daub. I can almost smell it cooking. I love your pouring shot slide show. I’ve always wondered what overpriced barley looked like. I’m with you on the big markets. The thing that drives me nuts is how they are constantly moving things about the store to herd you like cattle. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen pearl (whole) barley here, only cracked. Luckily I have some that was purchased in the US. Thanks for another great recipe.

  • Again you get me smiling all the way through… guess what I had for dinner yesterday? as a side dish? Black barley with butternut squash. Black barley, who could imagine that? I am sold. It was absolutley delicious and what a striking color

    anyway, love your recipe, sounds perfect for the pathetic weather we are having… (sigh)

  • I am drooling at this end, sounds and looks deliciously rich Conor. Sorry to say barley is cheap as chips (actually much cheaper) and easily procured here too

  • *laughter* As Sandra just said – barley IS cheap as chips in Australia and methinks one does not have to buy it organic ! A childhood grain of mine, I have fallen in love with it again lately and am making more than a few of your style of unctuous daubes. . . . Have to grin at your description of supermarket trick advertising – in Australia, as you may have gathered a long time ago, we are basically in a duopoly of Coles and Woolworths . . .Well, we have to countenance Curtis Stone for the first and Jamie Oliver for the second on multiple times every night: just the right period to get one’s cuppa tea in one’s hand . .

  • Although I can find barley in every supermarket, I don’t think they want me to. It’s stuck in the oddest places. But, I persist in searching, because barley has the nicest texture and taste, and is a bit of my childhood. My Gram made the best beef vegetable soup and always had barley in it. I’ll HAVE to make this “daub” .

  • Shock horror! A recipe stuffed with ingredients I can buy at my local supermarket! It looks very well worth the fairly short time it takes, too, and the Husband will love it because he’s a big barley fan. On an even happier note, I’m moving soon to a small town 15km away where there’s an outstanding butcher who can virtually name the cows her cuts come from. Yes, a lady butcher…

      • No, no! The kitchen work is in the NEW place 🙂
        And I’m lucky to live in a country where primary production and beef still hold a place of honour. The Husband’s cousin has a grazing property of nearly 95,000 acres in central Queensland, and for some years has been diversifying into Wagyu as well as the original Angus. It’s an impressive operation.

  • that’s too bad, but keep an eye for it, one never knows… I should blog about it in a month or so (too much stuff lined up already) –

  • I may have mentioned before that I had never seen (and haven’t seen since) the word daub other than on your blog. Thanks to your enlightening footnote, the conclusion seems to be that when I think I am making a stew, I am actually making a daub. Because mine are always thick. That amount of barley is easy to find around here for less than 1 euro by the way. The way we get ripped off is through spices or fresh herbs.

  • What a beautiful thing your Daub is…as the cooler climes approach down under my thoughts (and stomach) are starting to yearn for these types of wholesome, tasty, rich dishes. This one is likely to go on rotation in my kitchen!
    Pearl Barley, is as cheap as chips in Australia and I use it in salads, soups, or as side. I also use it in a type of risotto instead of the carnaroli rice, it’s unique nutty flavour is delicious. It is readily available in the supermarkets here but I’m now buying most of my staples from a bulk foods store ‘The Source’ which are popping up all over Sydney. No packaging, the provenance is clearly marked, plus the goods don’t sit around in warehouses for months.

  • I want to eat your ingredients shots. Should I seek help?

      • What work commitments? My only commitment as we all know is to my stomach. You say the word and I’m there. I’ll dispose of any colleague I must.

  • I knew I would find a great barley stew with your recipes. I like barley soup as well. I do have organic tomato paste I just purchased a case 12 tins. It was not expensive. 🙂 I saw your pot. Mine is identical..I almost thought I was at home! BARLEY ON…DUDE!!!💖💖💖

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