This is one of those tasty 'Stick To Your Ribs' kind of recipes. A little goes a long way, making this very economical. Serve with bread, rolls or a steaming pan of cornbread. Before proceeding, please read the IMPORTANT note below concerning salt.
- 1⁄2 cup dried black beans
- 4 slices bacon
- 1⁄2 lb boneless pork loin steaks
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 onions, small
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, cider vinegar will also work well
- 1⁄4 cup pearl barley
- 1 celery, diced
- 1 carrot, sliced thin
- 1 cup broccoli floret
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 (10 ounce) cans condensed vegetable broth
- 20 ounces water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup penne pasta
- The previous night, soak the black beans in a bowl of water. This will allow them to expand in preparation for cooking. In the morning, drain and rinse. Set aside.
- Place bacon in a frying pan on Medium/High heat. Cook until crispy. (You might want to cook more than the specified amount because you know you're going to be nibbling.) Remove to paper towels to drain.
- Cut pork into 1-1/2" chunks. Place them in a bag with the flour, and shake to coat. Place them in the frying pan with the hot bacon drippings, and brown. Remove to the paper towels to drain.
- Cut each onion into 8 chunks. Add to the hot drippings and flour residue and stir for about a minute. (You should still be on the Medium/High setting) Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. This will deglaze the pan while you are softening the onions. It should be smelling pretty good in your kitchen right about now!
- Pour this into the crockpot (brown bits and all) and add the pork and the bacon, which you have broken up into several pieces.
- Add in the beans, barley, celery, carrots, broccoli, garlic, broth concentrate and water. Stir.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 7 - 8 hours.
- After 6 or 7 hours, check the beans. They should be firm but not hard. If they are still hard, replace the lid and check again in another hour. When they are cooked -- add in the salt, pepper and pasta. Give it a good stir, then replace the lid, cooking for another hour or until the pasta is done to your likeness.
- IMPORTANT: Salt prohibits the beans from cooking properly. Do Not add the salt before the beans are done. Although there is salt in the broth concentrate, it isn't enough to affect the cooking process.
Who would of believed that in the middle of Spring 2010, a day would come that you would beg, get down on your hands and knees and pray for a "Country Style Pork and Barley Stew" and presto...there it was. This recipe. Go out, bring the cows in, get the fresh veggies, and cut the pork loin. You are about to enjoy the best stew meal you will ever have. The reason I love this so? It's a true original. And the taste is exactly that. You will love so many things about this. You will love the aroma, as you cook each ingredient to prepare it for the crock-pot. You will adore the black beans, the bacon, the pork and all the wonderful, rich veggies. I followed this exactly. For the photo, I put some noodles on the bottom, but to eat, all the noodles were all together for the most delicious bite of stew you will ever taste. This is a top 10 for us this year, and I know it will be for you too. Made for *Spring Veggies Celebration* April 2010
MMM! What a great stew -- reminds me of the kind my grandma made when we were little. I followed the recipe exactly as written and it turned out perfectly. I couldn't find any pearl barley, so I used the kind of split barley in my supermarket. I'm not sure if pearl barley would have tasted different, but I'd like to find some and try it. We loved this, Diana, and the addition of bacon was a treat for all. (Yes, I nibbled.) Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
My family was a bit divided on this one. DH loved it, I thought it was good but wish I'd used cider vinegar instead of balsamic & DS thought it was okay. Except he loved the flavors with the pasta. I had to leave out the broccoli because I was planning on making it next Saturday but changed my mind & that's the only thing I didn't have on hand. Oh, DD (2) even ate it, so that's a good sign right there. This was one of the recipes I wanted to try during the contest but just didn't have enough time. I'm glad I finally got to make it! Thanks for your entry, Diana! Made for Hidden Gems Event - Winter 2008.