(Barley? Yes. Trust me here.)
Remember, my recipes are a bit like the Pirate Code. Tinker with em until you like the taste.
A pound or so of good bacon. (By good, I mean that at the very least, the butcher had to pull it from his cold case and package it for you. It should be 1/4" thick or so.)
A pound or so of good sausage. (I like andoulle. Chorizo would probably work quite well.)
1-2 pounds of "other meat." Fajita-cut beef, stew meat, cut up pork, doesn't really matter. Doesn't even have to be particularly good meat, you won't notice when you're done.
a bulb of garlic
chicken stock (2 huge cans, somewhere north of 32oz. Beef is better, but I can't find it in bulk)
tomato juice (2 large cans)
tomato paste (2-3 cans)
stewed tomatoes, if you really want them
a bag of barley
You'll end up assembling all your ingredients in about a 3 gallon pot. Put your stock in the pot and get it warming. Dice your bacon and brown it in a frying pan. When it's browned, put it in the stock pot, reserving the grease in the frying pan. Brown a pound of your "other meat" in the grease, and then add that to the pot. Slice and brown your sausage, again reserving the grease when you add it to the pan. Brown any remaining meat, add it to the pot, and reserve whatever grease remains. Finely chop your garlic, and brown it lightly in the grease. Add the garlic (and the grease, if you're me and like the extra flavor).
Add the tomato juice and 2-3 bay leaves, and the stewed tomatoes if you're going to add them. Chop the cilantro fine, and add it to the pot, along with spices and lime juice. Stir well, cover, and let cook.
Check and stir every half hour to 45 minutes (total of 4-6 hours), spicing to taste. In the last 30-60 minutes, add tomato paste if needed for thickness, and the barley, then cook until barley is done.
It's even better on day 2 or 3, and you can freeze it for later, too.