Pearl Barley and Beef Stew with Gruyere Croutons

Spoon up a bowl, pour a glass of wine and cozy up with this hearty, simple-to-prepare stew.

Stews are versatile meals for all occasions. La Crema Chef Tracey Shepos like to go rustic and bring out the stew in the cooking pot for a “family style” supper:

Serve this stew family style …

Or, you can offer it as a comforting (and portable) meal at your Halloween Party.

… or serve these savory crocks of goodness.

Chef Tracey mentions an additional benefit: “While cooking, the cinnamon stick absolutely fills your house with this amazing aroma.”

Enjoy with La Crema Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.  The cooler climate Pinot Noirs result in more complex flavor, which is exactly what you’ll want to pair with this rich and flavorful stew.

Oh, and make sure you have plenty of croutons on hand … they will go fast!

Pearl Barley and Beef Stew with Gruyere Croutons

Serves: 8


  • 1 cup dried pearl barley
  • 3 lbs. boneless lean beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into quarters
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small cinnamon stick (1-inch in length)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried thyme
  • 2½ cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, halved and cut on a bias about ½-inch thick
  • 1 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into wedges ½-inch thick
  • 1 baguette, cut into slices about ½-inch thick
  • 1 cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 300˚F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, add barley and cover with cold water.  Set aside.
  3. Heat an 8-quart pot over medium-high heat.  Pat beef dry and season generously with salt and pepper.  Add oil to pan and brown meat on all sides (do this in 2 to 3 batches to ensure even browning).  Transfer meat to a bowl.
  4. Once all the meat has cooked, reduce the heat to medium.  Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until well roasted, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.  Add tomato paste, cook and stir constantly for approximately 2 minutes.  Add bay leaf, star anise, cinnamon stick, thyme and a pinch of salt.  Add wine and reduce by half.  Add broth, water, meat and any juices in the bowl back into the braising pot.  Bring to a simmer and skim any foam that collects on the surface.  Cover and place in oven for 1 hour or until meat is very tender.
  5. Remove braising pot from oven. Set a colander into a large bowl.  Carefully pour stew into colander.  Return the meat back into the braising pot.  Allow liquid to stand for 5 minutes, so the fat separates from the braising liquid.  Use a ladle to remove the fat from braising liquid.  Return the braising liquid back to the pot.
  6. Drain and rinse barley.  Add barley, parsnips and rutabaga to pot and bring to a simmer on the stovetop.  Place pot back in the oven for 35 minutes.  The stew is done when the barley is soft.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  7. Place bread slices on baking sheet and top with cheese.  Bake in the oven until cheese has melted and starts to brown.  Arrange toasts on a platter and serve stew at the table.