Grab Your Slow Cooker -- It's Beef Barley Stew Time!

If you own a slow cooker, then you're in luck because today we're grabbing ours and making a rich and robust beef barley stew. This recipe is as delicious as it is straightforward -- just add browned meat and sauteed garlic to your machine, along with butternut squash, potatoes, and barley. Then set your cooker and forget about it for eight hours until the meat is shreddable and the vegetables are tender. Enjoy a bowl tonight, but be sure to freeze some for a rainy day, too!

Beef Barley Stew

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2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and pepper
1 pound beef chuck, cut into 3 pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 thyme sprigs
4 cups chicken or beef broth, divided
1/2 pound small potatoes, halved
1/2 medium butternut squash (1 pound), peeled and diced medium (2 cups)
1/2 cup pearl barley

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1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Season beef with salt and cook until pieces are browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.

2. To the skillet, add remaining tablespoon oil, the garlic, and thyme and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add 2 cups broth and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.

3. Add potatoes, squash, barley, 2 cups water, and remaining 2 cups broth to slow cooker, cover, and cook on high until meat is very tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). Using two forks, shred beef. Season to taste with salt and pepper.



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