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)
In stead of hours, this vegetable beef stew takes about 30 minutes using a pressure cooker so you can get dinner on the table fast. Make this stew on the weekend an enjoy on busy weekday nights. 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. 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
Until I became a hawk at reading labels and understanding ingredients, this stew was made with Better Than Bullion. 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. 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
A pressure cooker is 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, brown rice noodles or polenta for gluten free. Finish with a little fresh parsley for a nice shot of green color and fresh flavor. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 days or can be frozen.
I use Fagor pressure cookers. You will need a 6-8 quart model.
- 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.
Using a pressure cooker greatly reduces the time it takes to get a satisfying beef and vegetable stew on the dinner table. Top sirloin is my choice for meat, with lots of vegetables and herbs for great flavor. Serve over whole wheat pasta, gluten-free brown rice noodles or polenta.
- 1 pound (450 grams) top sirloin, trimmed of fat and cut into large cubes, about 1 ¼”
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil (or butter)
- 1 cup (150 grams) diced onion
- 2 large ribs celery, diced small
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced fine (or use a garlic press)
- ½ cup (120 ml) dry red wine (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup (120 ml) rich beef broth or demi glace (note below)
- ¾ pound (340 grams) carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 15 ounces (411 grams) canned diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- Equipment: 6-8 quart pressure cooker
- Add oil to pot over medium heat and brown the cubed beef. When beef is brown, remove to bowl along with the juices and set aside.
- Add the onions and celery to the pot. If it seems dry, add another teaspoon or two of oil. Cook onions and celery over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute.
- Add wine and cook down for a minute or two. Add oregano, thyme, rosemary, paprika, bay leaf, pepper, and broth. Add the beef back into the pot. Lock the lid on and bring the pressure cooker to high pressure. When the gauge goes up, turn heat to low and set timer for 15 minutes.
- While stew is cooking, bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil. Salt the water and add carrots. Cook carrots for approximately 4 minutes, or until tender. Alternatively you can stem them until soft. Cooking time will depend on the size of your carrots. Drain and set carrots aside. When stew has completed pressure cooking, turn heat off and slide pan to a cool burner.
- Allow the pressure to come down naturally. It will take about 7-8 minutes. When the gauge drops, open lid away from your face, being careful of the steam. Add the warm carrots, drained tomatoes and chopped parsley. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate for enjoying later.
- Stew will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days and freezes well.
For a rich and deeply flavored beef broth, reduce no-sodium broth by half. Start with 1 cup and reduce by half to 1/2 cup which concentrates the flavor.
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.