1 tablespoon sunflower oil
625 g (14 lb) lean stewing beef, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
250 g (8 oz) carrots, diced
250 g (8 oz) parsnips or potatoes, diced
300 ml (2 pint) light ale
750 ml (14 pint) beef stock
small bunch of mixed herbs or dried bouquet garni
100 g (3½ oz) pearl barley
salt and pepper


1.Preheat the slow cooker if necessary. Heat the oil in a trying pan, add the beef a few pieces at a time until the meat is all in the pan, then fry over a high heat, stirring, until browned
2. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and transfer to the slow cooker pot.
3.Add the onion to the frying pan and fry, stirring, for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
4.Mix in the flour, then add the root vegetables and beer and bring to the boil, stirring. Pour into the slow cooker pot.
5.Add the stock to the frying pan with the herbs and a little salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then pour into the slow cooker pot.
6.Add the pearl barley, cover with the lid and cook on low for 9-10 hours until the beef is tender. Serve with Herb Croutons (see below), if liked.
7.FOR HERB CROUTONS TO ACCOMPANY THE BEEF, beat 2 tablespoons each chopped parsley and chives, 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon and a little pepper into 75 g (3 oz) soft butter.
8.Thickly slice 2 French stick, toast lightly on both sides, then spread with the herb butter.

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