First of all, sorry about that title. Just like the elusive free lunch, there is no such thing as an “Instant Stew”. You see, I recently asked my Facebook followers what dish they’d like to see me develop, and I received several requests for pressure cooker and stew recipes. We use (and love) an electric pressure cooker called an Instant Pot, so that’s what I used for this recipe (and hence the name).
At its heart, this dish is similar to many of my other stew recipes, but with a new approach. When it comes to simple weeknight recipes, many folks like the idea of crockpot stews (wherein you leave the ingredients to slow-cook while away at work). But I’ve found that more often than not, the vegetables become too mushy and tired after a long simmer. This is where a pressure cooker really shines, as it shaves a multi-hour recipe into just over an hour, making it a potential weeknight option with superior texture.
If you want to make this dish without any fancy (awesome) gadgetry, I’ve also included stovetop instructions below.
Dusting the beef in rice flour helps to thicken the sauce, but can be omitted if you’re avoiding rice.
Instant Stew (Pressure Cooker recipe)
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup red wine (Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon)
3 cups beef broth
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
3 celery stalks, cut into chunks
1.5 lbs waxy potatoes (red, golden, etc), cut into chunks
3 sprigs fresh thyme (1/2 tsp dried okay)
salt and pepper to taste
1 small handful parsley, chopped
1. Combine the beef, salt, pepper, and rice flour; toss to dust the beef evenly.
2. Plug in your Instant Pot and press the “Sauté” button. Add the ghee and warm until melted and shimmering, about 3 minutes. Add 1/3 of the beef and sauté until browned, about 6 minutes, then remove the beef and add another 1/3 of the beef. Continue until the rest of the beef has cooked, about 20 minutes total; set the beef aside.
3. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes, then add the garlic and tomato paste. Sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds, then add the wine and broth. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the beef (and any accumulated juices), carrots, parsnips, celery, potatoes, and thyme.
4. Cover and set the Instant Pot to “Meat/Stew” (high pressure) for 20 minutes. Once the Instant Pot finishes, wait until it depressurizes, about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when you can remove the lid easily.
5. Gently remove the solid ingredients from the pot (the carrots and parsnips will be very tender) and set aside. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté” again and simmer the sauce until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt or pepper if needed. Return the solid ingredients to the pot, stir in the chopped parsley, then serve.
** STOVETOP INSTRUCTIONS: In step #2, set the stovetop to medium heat and use a dutch oven. In step #3, only add the beef and thyme. In step #4, cover and simmer on low until the beef is just tender, about 1.5 to 2 hours, then add the vegetables; simmer until the vegetables and meat are tender, another 20 minutes. Proceed to step #5 to finish the recipe.
** Stew beef is fairly lean and sourced from various beef cuts; 20 mins is a pretty standard pressure cooking time for most cuts. You can also use a cut with more connective tissue, like chuck or short ribs; be sure to adjust the pressure cooking time to 25 minutes to make sure it’s tender. If you’re using bone-in meat, throw the bones into the pot after cutting up the meat. Fish them out before serving, and re-use them to make broth as well.
** Instead of celery stalks, consider using celery root (cut into chunks). The texture is similar to potatoes and still imparts a celery flavor. Other root vegetables will work as well, like turnips and rutabaga.
** When making meat dishes, it’s important not to force-depressurize the Instant Pot by turning its valve to “steam”, as it can result in a mealy texture. Just give it time to depressurize on its own.
You want a nice crust to develop when browning the meat. It’ll scrape up easily later on in the cooking process, and impart a rich, roasted flavor.
The vegetables will be very tender, so be careful when removing them from the pot.
While there is no such thing as an instant stew, my Stew for You (or Two) recipe is pretty close, if you don’t factor in the 3-hour cook time beforehand to create the stew packets.