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.
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.
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.