Mother Nature can be schizophrenic in the spring. Sunny and warm one day, raining and cold the next. What’s a cook to do? Go for a classic dish like beef and vegetable stew. Filled with chunks of top sirloin, carrots, tomatoes and herbs, this melt-in-your-mouth dish is a favorite with my beef-eating clients.
Save Time With a Pressure Cooker
Done in a pressure cooker, this stew takes about 30 minutes instead of hours, getting dinner on the table fast. You can also make it 2-3 days ahead and refrigerate it or freeze it.
Beef stew recipes often use what is called stew meat; a cubed mix of tougher cuts sold at many meat counters. My choice for stew is the more tender top sirloin. I’ve increased the vegetable content with lots of carrots, tomatoes, celery and onion and added organic Better Than Bullion concentrate for rich beefy flavor. (See updated note at recipe end on alternative to Better Than Bullion).
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 Work and Cooking
Trim your meat into large chunks, about 1 ¼’. Trim off any extra fat. Brown the meat and set aside. Cook onion, celery and garlic until soft. Add red wine and reduce. Add herbs, spices, beef bullion and browned beef. Lock the lid on and bring to high pressure. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow the pressure to drop naturally. This will take just a few minutes. For the carrots, I find when they are cooked with the meat they get too soft and almost fall apart. 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 or over whole wheat pasta or 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 at least a 6 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