Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beef Stew In The Pressure Cooker

I’m still trying to eat up items from the freezer and I came across a piece of arm roast the other day – arm roast is a cut from the chuck. I envisioned roasting it with veggies, but Bev decided she wanted beef stew, which to her means pressure cooking the meat, then adding the veggies and pressure cooking them. She likes her beef to be really tender and likes to use a pressure cooker to insure it gets there – it also cooks it much quicker and the meat is more steamed than boiled.

For those not familiar with pressure cooking, it basically works by forcing the liquid to boil at higher temps – in the 250* range vs. 212* for un-pressurized. Bev has used one all of her life and as regular canners of veggies, we are very comfortable using a pressure cooking device – here is some info on pressure cooking. Ours is just an old aluminum, 7 quart, Manttra (made in India), which Bev likely bought on the cheap – but it has served us very well. If I were getting a new one, it would be stainless steel to eliminate the possibility of reactivity. Care must be taken to use the device correctly and to not overcook foods – they can turn to mush.

The cooker we have is basically a pot, lid, seal and jiggler – which is a weight that allows the pressure to be relieved at a pre-determined level.

We cut the meat into chunks, coated it with flour seasoned with Tiger Seasoning, S&P, and browned it in a 12” sauté pan – our pressure cooker would have required several batches to brown vs. just two in the pan. As it was browned, the meat was added it to the pressure cooker and the pan was deglazed with a half cup of merlot. I've mentioned before that I like good tools, including knives.  This 12" Forschner comes in handy for carving big pieces of meat like this or a wide piece of well smoked brisket.

This liquid was added to the cooker along with 2 cups of water, which made it a little under an inch deep - only enough water is needed to last through the cooking time, but we wanted a little extra for gravy.

We also added a couple of bay leaves and a tsp of tried thyme leaves. At this point the heat was set on medium high until it began to make a steaming noise (some actually jiggle), then turned lower to maintain the steaming – which means the pot is operating correctly. It usually requires a couple of adjustments to get it to the right place.

The meat was cooked for 15 minutes once up to pressure (steaming) at which point the pot was put under running cool water to de-pressurize (never remove the jiggler or try to open the lid with the pot under pressure). It will quit making a steaming noise and open easily when it’s safe to do so.

At this point, we tested the meat and it was nearly perfect, so the veggies were added, along with two more cups of water (one would have made it a little thicker), additional seasoning, and cooked to desired doneness without pressure. They could have been pressure cooked as well, requiring about 10 minutes and by lessening the initial meat cook time to 10 minutes (which would have given it 20 minutes total). However, veggies are easier to overcook and I like to be able to easily remove the lid for a check without having to de-pressurize. Without the jiggler, the pressure cooker is just another lidded pot.

Bev normally doesn’t do the flour thing and ends up with broth rather than gravy. Her family tradition is to serve it with cornbread – this is East Tennessee afterall, and we just happened to have some left from the potato soup lunch the other day. Normally, I’d think in terms of hot rolls or biscuits to go with the thickened gravy in the stew. But the cornbread was nuked and added to the meal and it worked very well. I’m glad we have lots of leftovers.

This was perfect comfort food for a dreary day.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.



  1. Looks like wonderful comfort food, the flavours must be soooo good!

    Larry - I'm almost fanatical about knives being well looked after and kept sharp. As I head up to my Folks' place for Dad's birthdday and Xmas I will be taking at least one of my own knives with me (safely packed in my suitcase) as my dear Mother blunts knives incredibly.

    Confess that I will take over their kitchen for my 2 week stay as well, and Mum will happily let me - she will almost admit that my cooking genes come from dear Dad's side of the family, lol.

  2. Oh, it is time to bring out the pressure cooker. I'm lazy and brown my meat in the cooker and cooke everything all at once. It makes for mushy veggies, but laziness has it's price!

  3. That pressure cooker is just like the one my mom used to have. Personally I've never cooked with one. Beef stew has been on my list for a couple of weeks now. Must find time to make some. I agree, it's great for a dreary day.

  4. I've never used a pressure cooker - but it sounds fast! I made stew yesterday to celebrate the first snow up here. Looks like we got about 6 inches on the north side of the lake. Here it comes!

  5. Great recipe and I know Bill would love this so must give it a try. How about in a slow cooker though? I don't have a pressure cooker. It kind of intimidates me.

  6. Slow cooker will work fine, just takes longer to cook.

  7. I haven't used a pressure cooker in years. Your stew looks delicious. I'm glad you are participating in the Kitchen Reveal. Look forward to seeing your kitchen!

  8. My mother used to use a pressure cooker almost every day... I had one when I was first married --but no more... Haven't even seen one in years... These days, I prefer a crockpot...

    BUT--your stew looks terrific. I'm sure it would taste good on a cold, rainy wintery day.

  9. My mother had a pressure cooker, but I've never had one. I bought one at a yard sale once, but used it as a water dish for my hundred pound white lab, Max. It was the only dish he wouldn't drag around. I do love beef stew, but I add sweet potatoes and spinach to mine.

  10. I think I'll try this in a slow cooker...I'd love to come home from work to this!

  11. Larry, Beef stew, chili, pot roast, hearty soups...the stuff that holds us together on rainy dreary days! Comfort food for sure... Got my mouth watering and I wouldn't even use Tabasco on this entree! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  12. Big dude, save yourself a pan, and brown the meat directly in the pressure cooker. You may have to to half at a time but the advantage is that you get to keep all of those brown bits that attach themselves at the bottom of the pan and then deglaze them with the water.

  13. I'm still scared to death to try a pressure cooker, even the newfangled ones! And here you have one of the old fashioned kind. You are very brave LOL! I'm pretty sure that my mama scared me about them when one blew up on her and she swore them off. BUT, gotta say this stew seems far too easy to be so darned good looking!

  14. Great recipe, however it will be very tasty if you cook in the electric pressure cooker.


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