• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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Chili Coated Beef with Barley Cake and Tomato Sauce

I like the challenge of making good food for not a lot of money. I especially enjoy trying to make a seemingly fancy, well-composed dish on a budget. I got the basic idea for this dish from another blog and adapted it slightly.


This dish is great because it uses barley – a delicious and incredibly cheap whole grain that can make the perfect starch component to a meal. The author also gave me an interesting idea – running the barley through a food processor to give it a finer texture. That gives it a fluffy lightness that is not usually associated with barley. 


Chili Coated Beef with Barley Cake and Tomato Sauce

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: The cakes will loose a little of their crispness in reheating. I made three cakes then sauteed the rest of the barley and ate it like that as leftovers. Made 2 meals after the initial dinner.

Barley Cake
1 1/2 cup barley
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 cups chicken stock
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp oil

1. In a food processor***, process the barley until it reaches a finer texture. Each piece of the barley should be approximately 1/2 the size it was before – compareable in size and shape to couscous.
2. Remove the barley from the processor, reserving about 1/4 of the mixture. Place the barley in a large heat-safe bowl. Add the garlic and onion, and toss to combine completely.
3. In a small pot, heat the chicken stock to a rolling boil. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the stock over the barley. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until the barley is soft, about 10-15 minutes.
4. The barley should absorb all of the liquid, but if it is soft and there is still stock in the bowl, drain it out. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
5. Let cool slightly, and add the egg and bread crumbs. Mix to combine. Add more bread crumbs as necessary to allow the barley to stick together as a cake.
6. Form the barley into the desired number of cakes. Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the cakes until they are brown on each side.

Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp basil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. In a small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the tomatoes, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Add the herbs, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside, but keep warm.

Chili Coated Beef
1 1/2 pounds steak (top round is a good cut), cubed
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
reserved barley
1-2 dried chilis
2 Tbsp olive oil
1. Season the steak with salt and pepper as needed.
2. Place the reserved processed barley back in the food processor with the dried chili(s) and process until very fine, like a coarse flour.
3. Toss the cubed steak in the barley, making sure it’s well coated.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the steak and cook until browned on all sides and heated through in the center (about 3-4 minutes will give medium rare pieces). Turn the pieces as necessary throughout cooking.
5. Spoon some tomato sauce onto a plate. Top with the barley cake, some vegetables, and the cooked steak. Eat immediately!
***The apartment kitchen doesn’t have a food processor, I used a blender. Either will work!

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