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I promised more fall flavors this week, so let’s start off with a meal that goes hand-in-hand with chilly fall evenings: beef stew.
Speaking of chilly evenings, after sharing my complaint about how hot Florida is right now and how hard it is to get in a fall-cooking mood, Florida cooled down over the weekend. Amazing. Miraculous. I’m talking about 75 degrees during the day. That right there is scarf and jacket weather in Florida. I’m now ready to fully embrace pumpkin muffins and beef stew.
There are several beef stew recipes on the blog. Okay, two. Two = several in my mind. Those recipes are fairly old, which doesn’t mean they’re bad recipes. I’ve learned a lot about recipe development and perfecting recipes since the old Live Simply days. Re-making beef stew has been on my recipe to-do list.
Beef stew is usually a labor of love to make. As in, it takes a couple of hours to make in a Dutch oven, or longer if you use the slow-cooker. A meal that usually takes time to cook is the perfect meal to make in the Instant Pot. Not only is the Instant Pot a master at speeding up the cooking time for something like beef stew, it also cooks tough cuts of meat to absolute perfection. This means a meal that would typically be reserved for a chilly, slow weekend can now be made any night of the week.
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As you can probably tell from the number of Instant Pot recipes shared on the blog, I’m obsessed with this appliance. OBSESSED!
I don’t rely on a ton of appliances in my kitchen. My go-to tools are: a chef knife, immersion blender, a regular blender, a Dutch oven and skillet, hand-mixer, a griddle (for cooking pancakes), a waffle maker, a cutting board, and the Instant Pot.
I was honestly skeptical of the Instant Pot when it was first released a few years ago, but after hearing so much about it, I bought one. And you know what? It sat in the box for about a year because I was scared to use it.
I eventually opened up the box, thanks to a nudge from Helen (who helps out here on Live Simply with recipe perfecting). I wouldn’t say I had a “love at first use” kind of scenario. I slowly fell in love with the Instant Pot as I learned more about what this appliance can actually do.
Now, I will say that the Instant Pot isn’t the answer to all things, but it does make cooking many foods easier. Hard-boiled eggs are a testament to this, along with mashed potatoes (oh just wait, that recipe is coming next week).
With so many Instant Pot recipes going up on the blog, I think a post dedicated to the why and how of electric pressure cooking is necessary. I’ll get to that eventually. Today, I want to address a question I’m asked often, “What’s the difference between a slow-cooker and the Instant Pot?”
First, the Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker. It uses steam pressure to cook food (this helps food cook faster). A slow-cooker uses low heat over a long period of time to cook food. The Instant Pot cooks food in a fraction of the time the slow-cooker needs to cook the exact same meal. The Instant Pot can also cook many foods the slow-cooker can’t cook well. Eggs are a perfect example of this. Would you make hard-boiled eggs in your slow-cooker? No. In the Instant Pot? Yes.
While the Instant Pot is definitely trendy right now, pressure cooking isn’t new. Generations have been using a pressure cooker to prepare food. The pressure cooker (which relied on the stove-top as the “power” source) was originally invented in the 1600’s. The Instant Pot (which is a brand) just sparked a revival, so to speak, of pressure cooking at home with a safer, easier-to-use pressure cooker.
At this point, I no longer use a slow-cooker. I still have a slow-cooker, but it rarely comes out. The Instant Pot is my go-to appliance (and the oven and stove-top). Why? Food made in the electric pressure cooker doesn’t turn to mush, and it doesn’t all taste the same and have the same texture. Plus, pressure cooking is a very accurate way of cooking.
I personally believe everyone should consider adding an electric pressure cooker to their kitchen. And it’s my commitment to continue sharing recipes to help you use this appliance and simplify your life.
Now, how about some beef stew?
One of the reasons I love the Instant Pot (and one thing the slow-cooker can’t do), is because it has a saute feature which allows me to brown meat. Browning meat builds flavor in a dish.
Today’s recipe starts off using the saute feature to brown the beef. This is the most time-consuming part of the entire recipe. Once this flavor-building step is completed, it’s just a matter of adding everything to the Instant Pot and sealing the lid. The Instant Pot does take some time to come to pressure, but once it does, perfectly-tender beef stew is ready in just 45 minutes.
Instant Pot Beef Stew With Vegetables
A hearty beef stew with loads of vegetables. This stew is made in the Instant Pot (or electric pressure cooker of choice).
- 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1 3/4 -2 lbs beef stew meat *
- 2 TB unsalted butter
- 2 carrots sliced, about 1 cup
- 2 celery ribs roughly chopped, about ¾ cup
- 1/2 yellow onion roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 potatoes roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup roughly chopped green beans
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms 4-5 mushrooms, such as: white, baby bella, or cremini
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 3 cups beef broth or chicken broth
- 2 TB tomato paste
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp salt divided, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste
- 1-2 TB arrowroot starch
- 2-3 TB water
Sprinkle the beef with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Let the salt rest on the beef while chopping the veggies.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the broth, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the Instant Pot. Turn on the Saute function. Once hot, add half the beef. You’ll have to work in batches, probably two batches since all the beef won’t fit in the pot. Brown the beef on each side for just a couple of minutes. Set aside on a plate. Add the additional olive oil and remaining beef. Brown again. Set the meat aside on the plate.
Add the butter to the hot Instant Pot. Add all the veggies, saute for 4-5 minutes until they begin to sweat. You don't want the veggies to stick to the bottom of the Instant Pot, so don't let the veggies brown. This is just a quick saute. Once done, press Cancel to turn off the saute function.
Add the broth mixture to the Instant Pot, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. This is very important. If bits are left on the base of the pot, the Instant Pot may flash a burn notice when coming to pressure.
Add the beef to the pot, don’t stir.
Set the Instant Pot to Manual, High Pressure for 35 minutes. On new models, the Manual button is labeled, Pressure Level.
Once the stew is done cooking, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes and then perform a quick release (using a towel or hot pad holder).
If you'd prefer a thicker stew, you can add arrowroot starch. I prefer to use 1 tablespoon of arrowroot starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl, and then add this mixture to the stew. For a thicker stew, go with 2 tablespoons of arrowroot starch to 3 tablespoons of water. Again, mix this in a small bowl before adding to the stew. Once added, press Saute, and allow the stew to simmer for a few minutes (about 3-5 minutes) to slightly thicken. Stir frequently during this time.
*I can't ever find exactly 2lbs of beef stew meat, so it's usually between 1 3/4-2lbs. Another option is to purchase a beef chuck roast and cut the roast into pieces, trimming off any extra fat.
This beef stew is very hearty with all the beef and veggies. The serving size suggestion (6 people) will depend on the appetite of the people you're serving.