Mother Nature can be schizophrenic in the spring and early summer. Sunny and warm one day, drizzly and damp the next. What’s a cook to do? Make a classic, hearty dish that warms the tummy. Filled with chunks of top sirloin, carrots, tomatoes and herbs, this vegetable beef stew is a favorite with my family and clients.
Vegetable Beef Stew: Save Time With a Pressure Cooker (or not)
Using a pressure cooker, this vegetable beef stew takes about 30 minutes instead of hours, so you can get dinner on the table fast. This is a good dish to make on the weekend an enjoy during the week. It holds for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, or you can freeze it.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, make it the traditional way with just a few small edits to the directions. Don’t cook the carrots separately. Add the carrots and tomatoes to the pot, cover and simmer on low heat until the beef is done and the vegetables are tender. It will just take longer.
Beef stew recipes generally use stew meat which is a cubed mix of tougher cuts. A more tender option is to buy top sirloin. I buy a 2 pound piece and trim away any fat or tendons. After trimming I have the full 1 1/2 pounds to cook with.
Beef Broth – What to Buy and What to Avoid
This stew was originally made with Better Than Bullion until I became a hawk at reading labels and understanding ingredients.
Bullion pastes have unhealthy ingredients like caramel coloring, crazy high sodium, sugar, molasses (sugar), evaporated cane juice (sugar), honey (sugar), beef “flavor” (who knows what that really is), potato flour (in broth?), and preservatives. A lot of stuff you don’t want to eat. If you have any of these products, throw them out. Use real beef broth or beef bone broth.
Most of the boxed stuff is pretty bad too. Higher quality bone broths do cost more, but they taste better and are better for you.
Beef Broth Options
Good beef broth options are available if you hunt around. Find one that you like. As you read labels, make sure the ingredients all sound real. If the label says “all natural” don’t believe it. That means nothing.
A product I have relied on for years is Stock Options. Find it in the freezer section of better markets. One new to the market product that looks good is Kettle & Fire Bone Broth (low sodium) available for a good price on ThriveMarket.com
Why no sodium? Because that is how you make real homemade broth. Never with salt, so that you control the amount of sodium that goes into your final dish. It’s especially important if you plan to reduce the broth by half for bigger flavor. Reducing a broth with high sodium really increases the sodium in the final dish.
About Pressure Cookers
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, it’s a worthwhile addition to your kitchen. When not being used as a pressure cooker, it works like any other pot. When you feel the need for speed, the lid can be locked on and the time it takes to cook soups, stews, rice, beans and many other dishes is greatly reduced. In a time-starved cooking schedule, a pressure cooker can be your best friend.
Prep and Cooking Tips
Trim your meat into large chunks, about 1 ¼’. Trim off any extra fat, brown the meat and set it aside. Cook the onion, celery and garlic until soft. Add red wine and reduce. Add herbs, spices, broth and browned beef. Lock the lid on and bring to high pressure. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow the pressure to drop naturally. This will take just a few minutes. When the carrots are cooked with the meat they get too soft. Cook them in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes while the stew is cooking. Drain and add the carrots after the stew is done. For the tomatoes, they disintegrate in the pressure cooker, so I add them with the carrots at the end. They retain more of their shape and warm quickly when being added to the piping hot stew.
Serve in a bowl by itself (paleo) or over whole wheat pasta or brown rice noodles for gluten free. Finish with a little fresh parsley for a nice shot of green color and fresh flavor.
Equipment note – I use Fagor pressure cookers. You will need a 6-8 quart model. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 days or can be frozen.
- Fagor 6 quart pressure cooker
- Fagor 8 quart pressure cooker
- Fagor 3-in-1 6-Quart Multi-Cooker for pressure cooking, slow cooking and rice cooking
- Laura writes a terrific blog filled with recipes and tips for pressure cooking, Hip Pressure Cooking.
- More pressure cooker recipes from A Food Centric Life: Perfect Cheesecake and French Market Vegetable Beef Soup
- A good tool to have for shopping – Chemical Cuisine mobile app for iPhone and Android available at CSPI
Note – This recipe is updated from my original post in April of 2012. It’s still gray and raining outside and it’s June! In California we call it June Gloom. Still a good time for a hearty flavor-filled stew. See my new notes on beef broth and updates to the recipe.
If you enjoy chicken but have never learned to roast a whole one, try this easy technique for a gloriously golden, crisp bird. Leftovers make great chicken salad, sandwiches, soup, tacos or quesadillas. Save and freeze the carcass to make chicken stock. To season chicken, a citrus pepper blend is nice too.
- 1 - 4 1/2 pound (2 kilo) whole chicken, preferably organic
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (approximate)
- 2 teaspoons mixed black pepper, salt and granulated garlic (optional)
- Kitchen twine to tie the legs
- 10″ – 12″ cast iron skillet
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, unwrap and allow to stand for one hour. Wash the chicken with cold water, discarding any packet of innards. Remove any extra fat globs around the cavity opening. Dry well.
- Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen twine and trim off wing tips with kitchen scissors or shears.
- Season the chicken liberally with Florida Seasoned Pepper. Add salt if you prefer. Alternatively use coarse ground black pepper, granulated garlic and a coarse salt such as kosher or seal salt. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees (190 C). Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken in the hot pan bottom side down and sear for a few minutes until you achieve a golden crust. Watch your heat level and turn the heat down if needed so as not to burn the chicken.
- When you get a golden crust on the bottom, turn the chicken breast side down and do the same. When the breast side is golden, stand the chicken on the sides and sear both sides.
- When the chicken is golden all over, turn the chicken breast side up and put the pan in the oven. Roast until a digital thermometer reads 165 degrees in the deep part of the thigh. Timing will depend on the size of your chicken. A 4 to 4 ½ pound (2 kilo) chicken will take approximately 60 minutes in my convection oven.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10-15 minutes. Carve and serve. See photos to help with cutting up the roast chicken.
- Refrigerate leftover chicken as soon as possible and freeze the carcass to make chicken stock.