Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mushroom Barley Stew with Biscuit Crust

This one is for Tom. While chatting on Facebook today he encouraged me to start posting recipies again. Well, here it is, last nights dinner. I love this dish. It is vegetarian and if you leave off the biscuits, it's vegan. Nothing gonna hurt you in here, just good food. Enjoy!

Mushroom Barley Stew with a Biscuit Crust

1 can chick-peas
2 tablespoons vegetable (or olive) oil
18 pearl onions (the frozen ones in the bag are perfect)
4 carrots, peeled and cut in half then in ½ inch pieces (use can use a bag of baby carrots cut in half)
2 celery stalks, cut like the carrots
2 tablespoons flour
6 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
3 cloves garlic, minced (¼ teaspoon of jar garlic is fine too)
1/3 cup pearl barley
¾ pound red potatoes, cleaned and quartered
1 cup sugar snap peas (frozen box is ok too)
¾ pound sliced white mushrooms or baby bella's
salt and pepper to taste

For the Biscuits:

2 ½ cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup (4oz) cold unsalted butter, sliced into ½ tablespoon pieces
1 cup buttermilk (light is fine)
In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the chick-peas, carrots, celery, pearl onions and stir to coat. Cook about 2 minutes, sift the flour over the vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes, but do not brown. Add the stock, herbes de Province, garlic and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. The vegetables should be tender when pierced with a fork. Add the potatoes and cover, cook for an additional 30 minutes. While the potatoes cook, make the biscuits.
Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir until the mixture forms a dough. Gather into a ball and transfer onto a floured surface. Roll out the dough to ¾ inch thick and fold over in half, roll out again and fold, roll out to ½ inch and using a 2 inch cutter (or a glass rim) cut out the biscuits. You can re-roll the leftover dough to make more biscuits. Put the biscuits aside. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Check the stew. Add the snap peas and mushrooms cook for 5-8 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a round casserole dish (about 3qt 7-8 inch dia). Place the biscuits on top of the stew. It's ok if the overlap a bit. You can cook any extra biscuits on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Place the dish (and cookie sheet) into the oven and bake until the biscuits are golden and the stew is bubbling, about 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Resist the urge to use store bought biscuits. I've done it and they just don't taste as good. This is a great meal to make a double batch of. It reheats well and even without the biscuits, it makes a very satisfying lunch.