beef barley soup with laphroaig
(with all apologies to my metricized freinds)
this soup is pretty great for cold days and evenings. what it sacrifices in terms of aromatic complexity -- the usual carrots and celery mirepoix -- it makes up for in beefy whisky flavor. you could cut the cooking time down by half by using some broth out of a can, but it won't be the same -- better to use a mirepoix to make it interesting again. besides this is a main course meal, not a starter. you could have this for dinner on its own.
my girlfriend doesn't eat meat but she loves the aroma of this pot in the fall under falling leaves and caledonian sunsets. enjoy.
12 cups cold water
1 pound pearl barley,washed and soaked for 1 hour
1 medium onion
3 pounds beef chuck or shoulder roast -- the tougher the better. go all out and ask the butcher for a very tough cut with a lot of connective tissue, such as shank or shin, the extra glycerin will add a great richness to the broth. by the end it will be more tender and more flavorful than prime rib.
3 sprigs fresh thyme -
1 small bay leaf, fresh or 2 dried leaves
2 sprigs fresh majoram
light cooking oil
4 tablespoons of salt
fresh black pepper
3 oz laphroag 10 yo db
chop beef into 1 inch cubes, rub with fresh crushed thyme and majoram, set aside until the meat reaches room temperature (don't worry, you won't get sick.) rub with oil, make sure it's covered. do not add salt.
heat heavy pot at medium heat. add 2 tbsp. oil and finely cut onion. sweat onions until translucent. remove from pot.
brown meat thoroughly. do not add all at once, it will turn gray and have no flavor! don't remove from pot. re-add onions, bay leaf and water. make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to reintegrate the fond. cover and slowly bring to boil (really slowly, like 90 minutes -- this brings the flavor out of the beef.) scrape off the scum, it's bitter. make sure to stir occasionally.
add the salt and pepper. your broth should be pretty rich by this point.
rinse barley under cold water a few times, until the standing water in the container is not cloudy -- this will cloud your excellent homemade broth. add barley to pot, bring to slow rolling boil then back off heat to simmer for 45 minutes. stir intermittenly with a large spoon, but don't grind the barley apart. it's all about texture until the finish. add salt to taste.
10 minutes before serving remove lid and add laphroiag, keep heating to burn off the alcohol
. the barley should still be intact if you've gotten this far, and the meat should be soft and succulent. serve with warm shephards bread with buttter. enjoy.