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Tailgaters' Favorite Stew

['6 slices bacon (about 4 oz/125 g)', '1/4 cup all-purpose flour', '1 tsp salt', '1/2 tsp cracked black peppercorns', '2 lbs stewing beef, trimmed, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and patted dry', '2 onions, finely chopped', '2 stalks celery, diced', '2 carrots, peeled and diced', '4 cloves garlic, minced', '2 bay leaves', '1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg', 'Grated zest and juice of 1 orange', '1 1/2 cups barley (see tips) rinsed and drained', '1 can (5 1/2 oz/156 mL) tomato paste', '1 cup dry red wine', '2 cups beef broth', '1 cup water', '1/4 tsp cayenne pepper', 'Medium to large (3 1/2 to 5 quart) slow cooker']

1. In a skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and crumble. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Drain off all but 2 tbsp (30 mL) fat from pan, reserving remainder.
2. On a plate, combine flour, salt and peppercorns. Dredge beef in mixture until coated, discarding any excess. Add beef to pan, in batches, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes per batch, adding more bacon drippings between batches if necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware as completed.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions, celery and carrots to pan and cook, stirring, until carrots are softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, nutmeg and orange zest and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add barley and tomato paste and stir well. Add wine, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. DO AHEAD: Complete Step 3, heating 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in pan before softening the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you're ready to cook, complete the recipe.
4. Transfer to stoneware. Add broth and water and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until beef is tender. Discard bay leaves. Stir in reserved bacon, orange juice and cayenne. Cover and cook for 10 minutes to meld flavors.

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