We are all for hearty stews here in the fall and winter. Hearty enough that your spoon or fork will easily stand up in the bowl, without risk of falling anytime soon.
Mushrooms pair beautifully with barley, and the Worcestershire sauce brings out their natural meatiness. I have adapted this recipe for taste and for the slow cooker, as I don't like having to babysit a pot on the stove if I don't have to, and there is something nice about having it bubble away as I do other things. Ok, I don't do other things, but it is still nice to have it bubble away.
If you like your stews less... robust, you could always add some more stock. You will likely have to water it down a bit after the leftovers have been refrigerated, barley has a tendency to expand.
Serve hot with finely grated Gruyere and all will be right with the world.
Mushroom Barley Stew
adapted from Gourmet Magazine for the slow cooker.
6 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped fine
2 pounds white mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup medium-dry red wine
7 cups turkey broth
1 cup pearl barley
2 large or 4 medium carrots, sliced
1 large or 2 medium parsnips, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
In a heavy bottomed pan, cook garlic in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until golden. Add onions and cook, stirring, until pale golden. Add mushrooms, 1 tsp salt, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated.
Pour into 5 quart slow cooker.
Add broth, wine, barley, freshly ground black pepper, carrots, parsnips, and celery to mushroom mixture, combine, and set to high, covered, 3 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste.