Nutritious delicious beef stew in the pressure cooker

Okay, my husband says THIS is the keeper! I made variations of it before, but I think I am ready to present an actual recipe….

NOTE: Many pressure cooker recipes don’t clue you in that it can take 15-25 minutes to come to pressure and also that much time to come back down to “natural release” pressure after cooking. It all depends on how full the pressure cooker is. [Never fill a pressure cooker more than 2/3 full – unless the bulk of what is filling it is a watery veggie like cabbage, etc. ] Pressure cooking is still quicker than stove-top in most cases, but do incorporate the “up to pressure” and any “natural pressure release” into your cooking to serving schedule!

Okay, here is a great recipe:

around 3lbs chuck cut up in chunks – maybe 1 1/2 inch or so pieces, give or take.
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp or so olive oil
4 or 5 medium onions, halved and sliced thin – 1/8 inch or so
8-1o oz fresh sliced mushrooms
3 smallish carrots, diced (1/8 inch or so – not an exact science, here!)
1/2 cup red wine (can substitute apple juice in a pinch)
1 smallish butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1 1/2 or so inch chunks
1 cup stock (whatever – beef, chicken, veggie)
2 or 3 bay leaves, depending on size
thyme – about a tsp – to taste (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and then brown the beef in the pressure cooker. Stir a lot at first – it sticks! About 6-8 minutes (or so) until all sides are browned. Remove beef and set aside.

Scrape up any bits from browning the beef and put onions in pressure cooker over medium heat and cover (just a regular cover, not with the total pressure cooker with gasket!), in between stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. (If it seems really dry, add a dash more olive oil) Then add diced carrots and sliced mushrooms and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Do this at least until onions are starting to turn brown, but not getting burnt.

Add the wine (or apple juice) and cook until the liquid reduces by half.

Add stock, butternut squash, bay leaves, and the browned beef and put pressure cooker cover on and heat on high until it comes to pressure. Reduce burner temperature to high medium or whatever keeps the pressure on high. High pressure for 15 minutes, then remove to a cold burner and let pressure reduce naturally. (Do not ever do a quick pressure release with beef! It will make the meat tough!) [Quick pressure release can be done by running the pressure cooker under cold water – a technique used in and useful for many recipes – but NOT for beef!]

Once the pressure has gone down and you can open the pressure cooker, stir to find and remove bay leaves and also to get the butternut squash to dissolve into the broth. Yes, the squash will just dissolve – no chunks will be left. This is my inadvertant invention when I wanted to use up some squash a time back when I was messing around with this recipe. The squash thickens the broth and adds all sorts of nutrients without being obvious.

If you are on a low-fat diet, you can strain the liquid and degrease it, and then add it back before doing the following.

Bring the stew to a slow simmer, and add thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for at least 5 minutes to let flavors meld. (If you used apple juice instead of wine, a bit of lemon juice and parsley will go well, in addition to or instead of the thyme)

This is a low carb recipe. I didn’t mean to create it as such, but, no potatoes, no rice, no flour or cornstarch, or even kudzo (!) to thicken it…it is low carb since the butternut squash thickens it. And, my “meat and potatoes” husband loves this beef stew. A keeper in our family, anyway!