Category: Beef

Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon

I have an Instant Pot. Yes, I do. For the past couple years I have been using it to cook dried beans, some long-cooking vegetables such as beets, and I make yoghurt on a regular basis. I also tried an “all in one” meal with mashed potatoes, beets, and meatloaf… yes, cooked together ALL IN ONE POT. And do you know what?!… it was pretty good! I have been quite happy with my Instant Pot but people online can’t seem to stop talking about how amazing it is to cook almost ANYTHING (seriously… cheesecake?) so I need to branch out.

Some time ago I spotted this recipe for pressure cooker beef stew and it got me thinking about beef bourguignon with the wine and pearl onions and mushrooms. Mmmmmmmm, rich comforting flavourful beef stew in about half the time? Count me in, man! (Did I just say “man”?!?!).

The inspirational stew made (almost) according to the recipe was very good but I have continued to fiddle with it because I wanted something much closer to traditional beef bourguignon and I still don’t COMPLETELY trust the “dump and go” method in most Instant Pot and slow cooker recipes. I think flavours need to be layered. My favourite part of beef bourguignon are the little onions braised in dark stock and the mushrooms fried in butter so instead of simply cooking them in the stew I used Julia Child’s recipes for Oignons Glaces a Brun (brown braised onions) and Champignons Sautes au Beurre (sauted mushrooms in butter) and add them in at the end to re-heat. Granted it does take extra work, but not extra time because you do it while the beef is cooking.

The inspirational recipe calls for 4 packets of gelatin which gives body to the stew but I cut this down to one packet because my stock is homemade and already has the velvety mouth-feel. You can increase this if your stock is store-bought. I also nixed the extra carrots, potatoes and celery because those are not traditional in beef bourguignon but I did keep the soy sauce, anchovy paste and fish sauce… also not traditional but I think they really add to the umami quality of the stew. I also threw in some frozen green peas just because I like them. :)

Despite failing to jump on the whole “all in one” bandwagon, I think my recipe is now pretty close to traditional beef bourguignon while streamlining the process to use only one additional saute pan (with no washing in between) for all the searing, braising of onions, and frying of mushrooms. I have divided the ingredient list below into the separate cooking steps to help you organize better as you cook. It’s still probably not a weeknight meal but it will definitely cut your weekend beef bourguignon down to at least half the time letting you arrive home mid-afternoon (after a day of skiing? mountain climbing? parasailing? reading a good book that you can’t put down?) and still deliver a meal to the table that looks and tastes like you cooked all day… win, win!

2 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock
1 packet powdered unflavored gelatin (7 g) (you can use up to 4 packets if your stock is store-bought)
2 TBS tomato paste
1 TBS soy sauce
2 tsp anchovy paste, or 2 mashed anchovies, or 1 TBS Asian fish sauce (I used both anchovy paste and fish sauce)
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

2 TBS vegetable oil
3 pounds whole boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 3 steaks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TBS flour

1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 large or 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half pole to pole
3 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled

1 cup red wine or sherry (or a mix of both)
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme

1 cup (about 6 ounces) frozen or fresh pearl onions (thawed if frozen, peeled if fresh)
1 TBS butter
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 cup beef stock (ok to be made from good bouillon)

10 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered (or in sixths if large)
2 TBS butter

1 cup (about 4 ounces) frozen peas (optional, but I like them)

Fresh chopped parsley to garnish (optional)

Put stock, gelatin, tomato paste, soy sauce, anchovies and worcestershire sauce in a bowl or large measuring cup and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat 2 TBS vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Season beef on both sides with salt and pepper and sear on each side until a nice dark brown crust forms, about 5-6 minutes per side. Remove from skillet into large bowl. Sprinkle with 2 TBS of flour, stir and set aside.

In the same skillet (add another splash of oil if necessary), add carrots, onion (cut side down), and garlic cloves. Turn vegetables as they start to brown. Once they are browned on a couple sides, remove and set into Instant Pot.

Add sherry and or wine to skillet. Scrape up any fond and let alcohol reduce about one-third. Pour into Instant Pot over vegetables. Set skillet aside without cleaning… you’re going to use it again soon.

Cut seared beef into largish chunks (about 2 inches) and add to Instant Pot along with any beef drippings. Pour stock mixture into Instant Pot and add bay leaves and thyme. Set on manual high pressure for 35 minutes. (If you are using a stovetop pressure cooker, process for 30 minutes).

While the meat is cooking, make your pearl onions. If you are using fresh I have found the easiest way to peel is to blanch for 1 minute, then run under cold water until they are cool enough to peel. Melt 1 TBS each butter and oil in your skillet over medium-high heat until foamy. Add onions and let cook, tossing every couple minutes until they have started to brown. Add in beef stock and let simmer until the onions are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. If you are using frozen this takes about 10 minutes, fresh can take 20-30 minutes depending on their size. Scrape onions and any leftover liquid into bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet add 2 TBS butter and let melt until foamy. Add mushrooms and toss every couple minutes. They will first absorb the fat, then let go of their liquid and become quite wet, and finally the liquid will evaporate allowing the mushrooms to brown. This takes about 10-15 minutes for me. Set mushrooms aside.

When the beef has finished in the Instant Pot allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 15 minutes, after which you can manually release if the pin hasn’t dropped. If you have time, you can let sit up to a couple hours until you’re ready for dinner.

Remove the whole onion, bay leaves, and garlic cloves from stew and discard. Let sit for a couple minutes to let the fat rise to the top and skim. (Tip: If you find the thin layer of fat on top hard to skim because those pesky vegetables are getting in the way, just lay a paper towel across the top of the stew and it will soak up the fat!) Turn on saute function and add reserved mushroom, pearl onions, (and green peas, if using) to heat through. At this point you can also adjust the thickness of your stew if desired by making a slurry of flour or corn starch and water and stirring into the stew. Now is also the time to taste and re-season. I find a TBS each of fish sauce and balsamic vinegar really brighten the flavour and add depth to the final dish.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread and a salad or over potatoes or pasta. Leftovers are even more delicious. Yum!

Instant Pot Beef Stock

While prepping my ingredients for dinner yesterday I discovered that my supply of frozen homemade beef stock had disappeared (what the?!?!) so I spent some time in the afternoon making another batch. I keep telling you guys not to use that terrible canned/tetra pack stuff but have never told you how EASY it is to make your own beef stock in an Instant Pot (or other stove-top pressure cooker). It takes a few hours but most of that is hands off, and what you end up is so much more than the sum of its parts.

I save all my beef bones and scraps in the freezer, and supplement them with bones from the butcher. I think I pay around $10 for 6 pounds of organic beef bones and once I supplement with a couple pounds of bones and scraps from dinners here and there I have enough to make 2 batches of stock. Very economical considering the quality.

You may notice I don’t add any salt to my stock while making it but that’s just a personal choice. I like to wait to season the stock so I can customize it to whatever dish I’m using it in but you can season with salt at any time. Remember this when you taste the final stock from the pressure cooker. You’ll think, OMG it needs salt! Yes, yes it does! :)

4 pounds of beef bones and scraps
8 cups of water (my general rule is 2 cups per pound of bones)
1 TBS tomato paste
1 onion, unpeeled but rinsed and quartered
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp whole peppercorns

Optional add ins:
5-6 thin slices ginger, or 1 piece star anise
1 carrot (cut into a few chunks)
1 stalk celery (cut into a few chunks)
1 bay leaf

Blanch the bones by placing in a pot and cover completely with cold water. Bring to boil and let simmer for a couple minutes. Dump the water and rinse the bones. This gets rid of any impurities and makes a cleaner final stock.

Heat oven to 400F. Place blanched bones and any meat scraps on a large cookie sheet. Brush bones with tomato paste. Add quartered onion (with peel, this helps colour the broth) and ginger, carrot and/or celery (if using) to the tray. Roast for 30 minutes.

Once roasted, place the entire contents of the tray in your Instant Pot. Add apple cider vinegar and peppercorns. Pour in 8 cups of cold water. Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes and then let natural release for 20 minutes. Repeat twice more but let the pressure naturally release on the final cycle until the pin drops. Your final cooking time for the stock will be 90 minutes on high with 20 minutes of natural release between each cycle, plus about an hour at the end for the pressure to release naturally (about 3 hours altogether). Sounds weird, I know, but this cycling of the pressure makes a much more flavourful stock than just simply cooking for 90 minutes straight.

Strain stock pressing on solids to extract as much flavour as you can. You should get about 8 cups (7 cups after you have skimmed the fat). I sometimes put mine in the fridge overnight which makes it very easy to lift off the fat (remember to save that fat in your fridge for all your delicious frying needs!) If you had a good mix of bones and cooked it long enough you should have a wonderful jelly-like stock once it has cooled. The jelly means you have achieved greatness… give yourself a pat on the back. :)

I freeze the broth in 1 and 2 cup containers, plus one ice cube tray (throw the frozen cubes into a plastic freezer bag for easy storage). Those itty bitty broth cubes (standard size ice cub is 1 ounce or about 2 TBS) are great for recipes that call for a small amount of broth. You can also throw into stir fries, use to make pan sauces, or add to water when making rice or beans for another level of flavour. (You can even throw a cube into your dog’s water dish as a special treat… who, me?!?!)

Dijon Mustard Stew

Well apparently Spring arrived last week but she’s sure taking her sweet time showing it. We had a couple sunny days where the crocuses and daffodils finally showed their pretty faces and I did manage to get one gardening box planted with radishes and peas but the weather had turned rainy and chilly again. Cue the comfort food. I wanted something that would warm up the house with its delicious aroma all afternoon but have a bit of pizzazz.

I’ve been eyeing this recipe for at least a month or so. Originally published in the New York Times here many years ago, it’s been written about by various food bloggers since then. It appealed to me because of the copious amount of Dijon mustard. Have you ever really tasted good Dijon? Go grab a spoon and take a taste. It’s smooth and creamy, bold and thick, a little bit salty and tart, with a subtle spicy wasabi-horseradish thing going on. It’s delicious and adds a lovely depth and warmth when braised in a stew.

I’ve switched up the original recipe quite a bit by almost doubling the meat, adding a cup of wine to the braise (really, no red wine in a stew?), adding things like tomato paste, and finishing with fish sauce and balsamic vinegar to give more layers of flavour. I also played around with the method by braising in the oven instead of the stovetop. As well, I brown my meat by cutting a chuck roast into steaks and browning those, letting them rest, and then cutting into 1-2″ chunks. It just works better. This is why.

3-4 pounds beef chuck, cut into steaks
2 tablespoons flour (optional, your preference whether you brown steaks with flour or not)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, diced
3 shallots, chopped
glug of oil (I used leftover fat from frying various meats I keep in my fridge)
1 TBS tomato paste
2 TBS flour
1/2 cup Cognac or Brandy
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock (preferably homemade)
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 TBS grainy (ancient) Dijon mustard, divided
4 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1/2 – 3/4 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered
2 TBS butter
1 TBS fish sauce (optional)
1 TBS balsamic vinegar (optional)

Give your steaks a light dusting of flour mixed with a bit of salt and pepper if you like. This will help a nice crust to form on the meat but isn’t necessary. Heat oil (or other fat) in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add meat in a single layer. Let the meat brown without moving until a nice dark crust forms. Flip and brown the other side. Set aside to let let rest. You may have to do this in two or three batches.

Preheat oven to 300F.

Add onions and shallots to the pot adding a bit more fat if necessary. Turn down heat to medium and let cook until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. The moisture from the vegetables will also help to gently scrape and lift the fond from the pot. Once the vegetables are soft, add tomato paste and sprinkle with 2 TBS flour and stir for a minute or two. Pour in the Cognac or Brandy and gently finish deglazing the pan. Add the red wine and let simmer for a couple minutes.

Add stock, Dijon mustard, and 1 TBS of grainy mustard. Stir to blend. Cut beef into 1-2″ chunks and add to the pot. Bring to a simmer and place in oven.

At the 2 hour mark, check the beef. If it is on it’s way to being tender, add in the carrots. If it’s still quite tough, give it another 30 minutes then add the carrots.

While the carrots are cooking, melt butter to a frying pan over medium-high heat and saute mushrooms until liquid has been released and the mushrooms are brown and tender.

At 3 hours, check to ensure the beef is tender and carrots are cooked. Stir mushrooms and last TBS of grainy mustard into the stew and taste for seasoning. At this point I add about 1 TBS of fish sauce and 1 TBS balsamic vinegar (layers of flavour!).

We enjoyed this with some new boiled potatoes but it’s equally as good over pasta. Enjoy!

Pot Roast with Fresh Cranberries

cran pot roastHappy New Year! I hope you had a great one! Ours was pretty low-key as usual, except we did have my beautiful niece stay with us for a few days. We are used to being alone at Christmas but Niece is such a pleasant and positive person (which I’m not sure is true of all 22-year olds), that it was an absolute treat to have her around (and she didn’t even complain about having to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy three nights in a row! How’s that for pleasant?! :) ).

As you would expect, we spent most of our time cooking, eating and drinking (luckily, Niece has inherited these important traits from Auntie). We made a pulled lamb shoulder with mint and peas served over pasta for Christmas Eve, and an AMAZING prime rib with AMAZING blue cheese “scalloped” potatoes for Christmas dinner (Niece spent quite a bit of time stacking those potato slices sideways so we got yummy crispy edges). I absolutely have to blog about those dishes one of these days.

Since then I have been trying to eat a bit healthier but yesterday I was craving braise-y meaty comfort food. Plus I had a bag of cranberries in the crisper so… pot roast with fresh cranberries.

Husband loved this dish and it was very good, but I was a bit disappointed how the cranberries disappeared right into the sauce, although they did give just the right amount of tang (dare I say a touch of freshness?) to the dish. Next time, I will try holding back a third of the cranberries and add them in the last hour for some texture and colour. We ate this with charred cauliflower sprinkled with my pangrattato.

3 pound beef chuck roast
salt + pepper
couple glugs of vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into sixths
3 large or 6 small carrots, chopped into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces baby potatoes
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups chicken stock (feel free to add another cup if your roast is bigger or if you like it very saucy)
1 1/2 TBS worcestershire sauce
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TBS honey
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
12 ounces (1 bag) fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325F.

cran pot roast ingred 1

Season the pot roast with salt and pepper. Add a good glug of oil to a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed large pot and sear the roast over medium-high heat on all sides. You want lovely dark brown caramelization; don’t rush this part. Remove roast to a side plate. Add another glug of oil to the pot and add onion, carrots and potatoes until they start to show some colour; about 5 minutes.

cran pot roast ingred 2

Add the red wine to the pot and gently scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom. Let the wine reduce by half and add chicken stock, worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, thyme, rosemary, and cranberries. Nestle the meat in amongst the vegetables, cover the pot, and place in oven. After one hour, turn the heat down to 300F. Continue to braise for another 2 hours or until the meat is falling apart.

(Next time I make this, and there will be a next time, I will add 2/3rds of the cranberries at the beginning and add the rest in the last hour, just for some texture and colour).

Remove from oven. Pull the meat apart into large chunks with a fork. You could omit the potatoes from the recipe and serve over mashed potatoes or pasta. We were happy to eat it straight up with more veggies on the side.

cran pot roast final

Pseudo-Korean Grilled Flank Steak

korean beef finishSometimes laziness is your friend.

Yesterday I did not want to leave the house. It was rainy and windy and yucky. But I hadn’t bought any groceries because we spent the entire weekend out socializing. I was pretty much stuck with what was in my pantry and freezer, and a few odd herbs. What to do… what to do. I have a ton of frozen flank steak (thanks Jay) so I knew I could make use of that, and of course rice in the pantry. I sort of started with the idea of Korean Bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef) which has pear in it, subbed in apple because I had no pear, and then sort of threw things in until the marinade tasted like what I was imagining. I don’t know what to call it so I’m calling it “pseudo-Korean”. I’m also calling it delicious.

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Not Authentic Slow Cooker Indonesian Beef Rendang

rendang finishedI have been DYING to try a rendang (essentially a fragrant, spicy beef stew) for a while but it’s just been too darned hot to turn on the oven or stand over a burner for several hours. Then a miracle happened (really, really). A rendang recipe appeared in my “in box” on the exact day the temperature dropped 10 degrees and it used a slow cooker to boot! No oven or hot stovetop! See???… a miracle! And guess what, the results were even better than I had hoped. I am still smarting after Husband’s remark last week about “bland”. Well, things were far from bland tonight, buddy! Cha-Ching!

I don’t know about you, but I keep frozen lemongrass and lime leaves in my freezer (a habit from the “olden days” when these ingredients weren’t so easy to find) so I had most of the ingredients on hand except fresh red chillies for which I substituted red chilli flakes, and red onion for which I substituted white. I cut back dramatically on the salt and added fish sauce for an additional umami, funky sort of flavour.

I’m calling this recipe “not authentic” because, slow cooker. For any traditional nay-sayers out there, I’m sorry you have to wait until winter for your rendang fix. That said, I DO think the inspiration recipe ends too soon. Traditional beef rendang is quite dry and for anyone who has ever used a slow cooker, you know the longer you cook, the saucier it seems to get. So after about 5 hours when the meat was falling apart tender, I removed it to a separate bowl, skimmed the fat, and cooked down the sauce on the stovetop to about half its original volume. I then adjusted the seasoning by adding a touch of brown sugar, another splash of fish sauce, and a tipple of sambal oelek for some instant heat. Easy peasy and Husband loved it. The original recipe says it serves 4… not in our house. I know this recipe will be going into my regular rotation.

2 red onions
1-2 TBS fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic
2 red chillies (or 1 tsp hot red chilli flakes)
2 sticks of lemongrass (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
6 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp palm (or brown) sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric

a glug of vegetable oil
2 – 2 1/2 pounds stewing beef (shin, shank, chuck or shortrib) cubed
1 can (400 ml) full fat coconut milk
1 TBS fish sauce
1 cinnamon stick

To finish:
2 TBS tamarind paste

Additional adjustments I made once sauce was reduced (taste sauce and adjust to your liking):
~1 tsp brown sugar
~1 tsp fish sauce
~1/2-1 tsp sambal oelek

handful of cilantro, leaves picked and chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
lime wedges
Jasmine or Basmati Rice (I added a pinch of turmeric, a few cardamom pods, and a star anise while cooking)

Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces, heat vegetable oil in a pan and sear in batches until the outside of the beef is a lovely dark brown. Transfer the beef to a slow cooker as it’s done. Do not wipe the pan clean. You will be pulling up all that beautiful caramelized flavour in the next step.

rendang beef

Peel and roughly chop the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chillies (or chilli flakes). Throw them all into the food processor with the kaffir lime leaves, spices and palm or brown sugar. Blitz to a paste. Add another glug of oil to the pan you used to brown the beef and add spice paste, frying for 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and cinnamon stick and gently scrape up all the goodness at the bottom of the pan.

rendang paste

rendang fry paste

Add the paste/coconut milk mixture into the slow-cooker with the beef and cook on a low heat for 5-6 hours until the meat is really tender.

rendang slow cooker

Remove the beef to a separate bowl and pour the remaining sauce from the slow cooker into a sauce pan on your stovetop (skimming the fat if you wish). I had about 4 cups of sauce. Add the tamarind paste, bring to a slow boil and reduce to approximately 2 cups of sauce, ensure you are stirring every few minutes so the bottom doesn’t burn. Taste and re-season if necessary. Add the cooked beef back into the sauce and heat through. Serve with aromatic rice (I used basmati and added a pinch of turmeric, a few cardamom pods, and a star anise). Garnish with chopped cilantro, finely sliced green onion, and a wedge of lime.

rendang fork

Butter-Basted Prime Rib Steak

butter basted prime rib

I was going to post about the most delicious chicken pot pies I have ever tasted.

chicken pot pie
See, don’t those look good?!?!

But I have spent much of this morning looking for my recipe notes and cannot find them! I know I used chicken thighs (of course) and an amazing pastry that had sour cream in it… sigh.

So maybe I should post about the Christmas Eve prime rib roast with a mustard herb butter that Husband said was the best he’d ever tasted?! Do you think I can find a single picture of that meal? Nope.

So, third time’s a charm? You bet it is, because I want to tell you about a crazy decadent butter-basted prime rib “steak” I have made no fewer than 3 times in the past couple months (don’t judge). Based on a recipe for rib eye steaks, I adapted it slightly for a single bone prime rib, seared on the stovetop, basted with butter and herbs, then finished in the oven. This is not one for the calorie-counters. Just treat yourself and move on. :)

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Beer Braised Short Ribs

beer braised shortribsI like to cook with beer.  Many times it’s in my hand but sometimes it even makes it into the food!  Last winter my husband and I went to Maui (an opportunity for me to spend some time with my mom and dad, who met us there, and a chance for him to ride his road bike every day).  On our last evening we had dinner at Mama’s Fish House where my dad ordered short ribs.  He loved them so I decided to try cooking them at home.

This recipe is slightly altered from one in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman (who I think is a goddess, BTW). You can read about her book here I served this with potatoes boiled with a couple smashed cloves of garlic, then roughly mashed with melted butter mixed with prepared horseradish, and roasted broccoli with toasted pumpkin seeds and a squeeze of lemon. Serves 4.

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