Brown beef in large stewing pot with oil and butter (it is important to use a little of both). At this point some drain, but I hold onto the juices for flavor (you can do any way you wish).
Add onions, potatoes, celery, and carrots to the pot. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring often.
Add enough water for contents to be covered, with a few inches above to spare. Add salt, pepper, basil, and gravy liquid (if you like a lot of flavor, I usually add a package of stew seasoning). Add barley.
Allow this mixture to stew on a light simmer for the remaining time (usually around two and a half hours). Remember to stir frequently to avoid the barley sticking to the bottom of pot, and add more water throughout the cooking process to make sure the water level is high, covering all ingredients.