Note: This post has been in the can for over a month; I kept pushing it back for other recipes. The Browns season is over…and they’re having the most Brownian offseason imaginable.
No plan survives contact with the enemy. The plan? A traditional beef stew, simmering all afternoon. The enemy? Me.
I started watching the Browns game. I got sucked in – we were winning! We look good! – then came the inevitable collapse. Interception, Interception, Fumble…from a ten point lead to down by three…in two minutes.
I couldn’t pull myself away. I kept thinking “I’ll start the stew at the next commercial break.” But I knew I could put it off. I really only needed an hour. My pressure cooker would save my bacon. Or my stew, in this case.
Now, this is not a quick recipe – no twenty-minute meal here. It takes time to brown the beef and saute the vegetables, to build depth of flavor into the stew. But the pressure cooker makes short work of the actual cooking time, taking it from three hours down to 35 minutes, including the natural pressure release at the end.
No pressure cooker? No worries. See the notes section for stovetop instructions.
Recipe: Basic Pressure Cooker Beef Stew
- 8 quart or larger pressure cooker (I use a massive Kuhn Rikon 12 quart family stockpot)
Basic pressure cooker beef stew, with new potatoes and carrots.
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 5 pounds of beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (optional, helps brown the meat in the heat of the pressure cooker)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch lengths
- 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
- Sear the beef in batches: Season the beef with 1 tablespoon salt. Heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in the pressure cooker pot until shimmering. Brown the beef in 2 to 3 batches, depending on the size of your pot – don’t crowd the pot, or the beef will steam instead of browning. Sear the beef for 3 minutes per side, or until well browned, then remove to a bowl and sear the next batch. Once all the beef is browned, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and fat in the cooker.
- Saute the aromatics: Add the onion, celery, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme to the pot. Sprinkle with the baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute for five minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add the red wine to the pot, bring to a simmer, and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits.
- Everything into the pot: Stir in the chicken stock, then the beef and any beef juices from the bowl. Pour the tomatoes on top, but don’t stir. Put a steamer basket on top of everything in the pot and put the potatoes and carrots in the steamer basket.
- Pressure cook the stew Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure, then cook at high pressure for 20 minutes (25 minutes for an electric pressure cooker). Remove from the heat, allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes, then quick release any pressure left in the pot.
- Serve: Carefully lift the steamer basket of potatoes and carrots out of the pot, cut the potatoes in half, and then stir the carrots and potatoes back into the stew. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper to the stew if necessary, and serve.
Smaller (6 quart) pressure cooker? Cut back to 3 pounds of beef and 3/4 pound of potatoes, leave all the other ingredients as they are.
- No pressure cooker? Use a heavy bottomed dutch oven with a lid. Increase the amount of wine to 1 cup, and chicken stock to 2 cups. Follow the instructions right up until “lock the lid”. Then, instead of pressure cooking, bring the pot to a boil, cover, and move the pot to a preheated 350*F oven. Bake for 2 hours, or until the beef is tender.
- Pressure cooker pots can be narrow. I assume it’s a design choice, that making a lid strong enough to handle high pressure is easier in a narrow pot. If you have a narrow pot, use a large fry pan to help brown the beef – that way, you can brown two batches at once. While the aromatics saute in the pressure cooker pot, add the chicken stock to the fry pan and bring it to a simmer. Scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the fry pan – that’s good flavor, and we don’t want to lose it. Once all the browned bits are loose, turn off the heat, and let the chicken stock sit until the recipe asks for it.
- Why put the potatoes and carrots on the steamer rack? Floating them above the liquid keeps them from cooking down to mush.
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