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Slow Cooked Lamb & Barley

July 6, 2018|3455 Views |0 Comments

S E A S O N A L   R E C I P E

This warming casserole has an amazing richness of flavour and texture from slowly cooking lamb in a broth of dark beer and stock flavored with herbs and Tasmanian pepperberries. 

A lot of the richness comes from the lamb fat, so although you can skim the fat when you remove the casserole from the oven, I think you’re missing out if you do!

In this recipe I’ve combined the lamb with pearl barley, an often under-rated ancient grain which is both inexpensive and high in insoluble fibre, meaning it’s great for your pocket and your gut health. This is a fantastic winter one pot meal, great on its own or accompanied by a baby spinach and rocket salad, sautéed greens, or snow peas.

(Editors note: We had Anna Yip of Off the Table Tasmania pop in just as Fi’s casserole came out of the oven. Immaculate timing! She gave it two thumbs up. Thanks for being in our photos Anna!)


4 people

Prep Time

40 + 20 minutes

Total Cooking Time

4 hours


1kg lamb – eg. bone in shoulder, shoulder chops, shanks, neck – we used Littlewood Lamb

2 small or 1 medium onion

3 carrots

1 stick of celery

2/3rds cup pearl barley

1 can of dark beer – we used Last Rites Dead Man’s Revenge Black IPA

2 tsp Tasmanian pepperberries, whole – we used Provenance Growers

½ tsp dried mixed herbs

½ tsp salt – we used Tasman Sea Salt

1 bay leaf

1 tsp sweet paprika

500mls beef stock

6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – Freshfield Grove, of course!


  1. Set oven to 160degC
  2. Measure out the barley and cook as per packet instructions. When cooked, drain and put aside, and
    reserve the cooking liquid. The cooked barley will be added to the casserole later.
  3. Coarsely chop the onion.
  4. Take a 4L-ish casserole dish and place on the stove with 3tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over a medium heat.
  5. Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened (5-10 minutes).
  6. While cooking the onion, slice the carrot and celery, add to the pan and continue to cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove the veg from the dish and keep aside on a plate (or on the inverted casserole lid).
  8. Add the remaining 3tbsp EVOO to the casserole dish and brown the lamb.
  9. Turn down the heat to low and add the pepperberries, mixed herbs, salt, bay leaf, and sweet paprika.
  10. Cook stirring occasionally for 1 minute then add the beer and stock, and onion, carrot and celery.
  11. Return the heat to medium and bring to a simmer.
  12. Put the lid on and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours.
  13. Remove the casserole dish from the oven, remove the meat from the pot and wrap in tin foil.
  14. Add the barley to the casserole dish, with the barley cooking water and extra hot water if required to make the dish the desired texture (some people like this kind of soupy, others prefer a thick gravy!)
  15. Put the casserole dish back in the oven.
  16. Once the lamb has cooled a little, shred the meat, return to the pot, and mix through.
  17. Season to taste.
  18. Serve as it is, or garnished with chopped parsley and drizzled with EVOO.


On celery. You may have a celery-hater in your household… If this is the case I would still encourage you to include the celery in the dish as it adds greatly to the depth of flavour. You may choose to either hide the celery by grating it, or chop it into large chunks which can be removed prior to serving. I generally go for the latter.

Slow cooker? This recipe also works well in the slow cooker. Put all the ingredients in a 5.5L slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. At or near the end of cooking, remove the lamb, shred, and return to the dish. This can also be prepared the night before – just put everything in the insert and place in the fridge, then in the morning start the slow cooker off. The barley will be on the softer side, but I’m prepared to trade this for an incredibly easy meal!

Pepper substitute. 1 tsp black peppercorns can be substituted for the 2 tsp of Tasmanian pepperberries.

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