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With hot summer days behind us, I am dreaming of hearty, fall and winter comfort meals. And of course, stews come to mind — stews that cook for a while and fill the house with tantalizing aromas that have you chomping at the bit until dinner time.

Last year I went through some old cookbooks and came across a recipe that I knew I had to try — Barley Cranberry Pork Stew. It seemed like a perfect dish to try with the holidays season approaching, and it didn’t disappoint! I ended up making it several times last year, and plan to again this year. It’s easy and inexpensive to do, and as an added bonus, it freezes well if you have any leftovers.

I’ve been trying to relocate the original recipe to give credit on its origins and unfortunately, I can’t find it. I know I made several modifications, but the heart of this recipe comes from a culinary professional with more experience and imagination than me.

Bowl of stew with meat, barley and carrots

Barley Cranberry Pork Stew

This recipe serves 6.

It takes me about 2 and a 1/2 hours to make, which includes ingredient preparation and chopping time. You can probably speed that up — I like to take my time when I’m preparing a good meal… sip some wine as I’m doing it… and get pleasure out of the experience. I usually enjoy preparing this type of meal as much as I do eating it. Well, almost as much.


1.5 tablespoons of olive oil

2+ pounds pork butt roast, or pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized cubes

1.5 cups coarsely chopped sweet onions

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of cumin seed

1 teaspoon of paprika

¾ teaspoon of ground black pepper

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced

2 bay leaves

4 cups chicken stock

1 cup white wine

1 cup reserved barley water (see instructions below)

1 14.5 ounce can diced or crushed fire roasted tomatoes (preferably Muir Glenn brand)

1 cup uncooked pearl barley

1 cup dried cranberries


1.  While preparing ingredients, partially pre-cook the barley — cook per package directions for about 75% of the time. When done, reserve 1 cup of the liquid.

2.  In a dutch oven or large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.

3.  Add the pork cubes and brown on all sides (about 5 minutes). Remove pork from the pot and set aside.

4.  Lower heat to medium and drizzle more olive oil in the pot if it looks dry. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

5.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or two, until the garlic becomes fragrant.

6.  Add the salt, cumin, paprika and black pepper and stir till combined.

7.  Stir in the carrots and cook for 5 minutes.

8.  Add the bay leaves, chicken stock, wine, reserved barley water, diced tomatoes with juice, the pork (with any accumulated juices), and the barley. Stir till well combined.

9.  Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 45 minutes.

10. Stir in the cranberries and cook for 20 minutes longer.

11. Remove the bay leaves. Serve in large soup bowls.

Jane Gennarelli is co-editor of LNF Weekly. She also edits the Lavaca & Friends weekly arts and entertainment newsletter.

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