Meatball and pearl barley stew

Pearl barley is a grain that’s often overlooked, but in this meatball stew it gives texture and bulks out the quantities to bring down costs.
If you are making this stew in advance add a little more stock or water when you reheat it, as the pearl barley will have soaked up some of the sauce.
This is designed to be a low cost recipe.

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For the meatballs


  1. Heat a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan along with the onion, carrots and a pinch of salt. Fry for 5-6 minutes, or until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, or until aromatic.

  2. Pour in 750ml/1¼pint of the stock and add the dried herbs and pearl barley. Bring to just below boiling point and then reduce the heat until very gently simmering. Cook for 30 minutes.

  3. For the meatballs, mix together the mince, onion, garlic and herbs along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Using your hands, roll into 16 balls.

  4. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, fry the meatballs on all sides until nicely coloured, being careful not to burn them. You may need to do this in batches.

  5. Transfer the coloured meatballs to the pan with the barley and gently mix through. Put the frying pan over a medium heat and pour 100ml/3½fl oz of water into the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom and catch all the flavours from frying the meatballs then pour this liquid into the pan with the barley.

  6. Add the remaining stock to the barley pan, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve warm.

Recipe Tips

In May 2013 this recipe was costed at £3.32 at Asda, £3.95 at Tesco and £2.66 at Sainsbury’s.
This recipe is designed to be made in conjunction with a
low-cost store-cupboard.

How-to videos

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How to make meatballs