Have you ever seen the independent film, “Another Earth”? If not, I highly recommend it. And I promise it has something to do with beef stew.
“Another Earth” has the premise that we discover a second Earth floating towards us, an exact replica of our own down to the people who live upon it.
But despite having precisely duplicate DNA with our alternate selves, the different circumstances we each encounter lead us to become drastically different people.
In my extended daydream of this scenario, I’m one of those moms who’s braising, blogging, coaching, scrubbing, and folding laundry with one hand each, with a fridge packed with enough thoughtfully prepared delicacies for the next three days.
Except in reality, I’m the me on the alternate planet.
Because between a part-time consulting job, building a training and professional speaking practice, managing marketing for our rental property, and raising the world’s most domineering yet adorable toddler, I’m a hot mess.
And while I have many gifts, planning anything in advance is most certainly not one of them.
That means if I’ve even thought about dinner ten minutes before the inevitable, “Mommy I’m huuuuuungryyyyy!”, it’s unusual.
And as such, the other night after blazing a trail through my workload, I suddenly realized it was fast approaching toddler pickup time and D’OH! I had completely forgotten to thaw the stew meat for that evening’s rosemary beef stew.
Snowstorm’s a-comin’, and my mini meatosaurus wasn’t going to give my delectable roasted beet with pepita salad a second chance.
Yes, I know you’re supposed to brown the meat before stewing. But this called for drastic measures.
What on this Earth could possibly transform a frozen block of meat into dinner in under 2 hours, thereby saving my procrastinatin’ posterior?
But of course. My Instant Pot.
If you’re a member of the real food / Paleo community, you may have heard that the mystical Instant Pot is the new black. Part pressure cooker, crockpot, sauté pan, steamer, rice cooker, and general housekeeper, this handy gadget has engaged our slow food kitchen into Warp drive. And since it cooks thawed meat so quickly, I thought…what if?
So…I did something…crazy. Broke the glass. I…took two pounds of frozen solid beef bricks and popped it right in the Instant Pot. Then…I maybe prayed a little.
It was the best gosh-darn beef stew I’ve ever tasted. I’m talking melt-like-buttah chunks of beef, as if simmered all the day long in a slow cooker. Not a hint underdone. Fork-tender golden potatoes, neither mealy nor mushy as with a crockpot. All cradled in a rich, redolent gravy.
Mommy. Like. And consequently, my love affair with the Instant Pot only deepened.
I now share with you my dirty little secret recipe for safely prepared and out-of-this-world beef stew with frozen solid blocks of meat in under 2 hours.
- 2 lbs grass-fed beef stew meat (frozen is ok!) [my preferred source]
- 2 tbsp solid cooking fat such as refined coconut oil, pastured lard or grass-fed ghee
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
- 1 medium onion
- 1/4 cup dry red wine (omit if on AIP)
- 1 lb. (8 medium) carrots
- 4 stalks celery
- 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 cups bone stock or broth
- 2 tbsp organic Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1/2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary OR 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 dried bay leaf
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup arrowroot flour
- Optional: 1 fresh or frozen grass-fed beef bone
- Smash and mince the garlic. Let sit for 10 minutes to activate the allicin, the garlic’s active antimicrobial compound.
- Dice the onion and slice the carrots and celery. Wash the potatoes well and cut them into large cubes.
- Place the fat in the Instant Pot with the garlic, onion and rosemary. Turn on to Sauté and heat until softened and fragrant.
- Add the wine (if using) and braise the vegetables several minutes more.
- While that’s cooking, stir the Dijon mustard, coconut aminos, palm sugar, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper into the bone broth.
- Place the frozen stew meat and optional beef bone in the Instant Pot, then place the carrots, celery, and potatoes on top.
- Pour the bone broth mixture over the meat and vegetables.
- Place and lock the lid onto the Instant Pot. Turn off sauté and press the Meat/Stew button.
- If using frozen meat, press the + key to add ten minutes to the time, for a total of 45 minutes. If not, leave it at 35 minutes.
- Allow it to activate, which will display "On". With this volume, it will take about 20-25 minutes to pressurize and seal. Then the 45 minutes countdown begins.
- Walk away and RELAX. Indulge a bubble bath, get your hair did. Because girl (or guy), you’re worth it.
- Once the cooking time completes, turn off the Instant Pot. For the most tender meat, allow the pot to depressurize and unseal naturally. But if you’re in a rush, manually depressurize the pot CAREFULLY by using a heat-safe glove to push the valve open with a wooden spoon. Trust me, you want to be nowhere near that valve when you open it!
- Open the lid when the metal lock has dropped, indicating depressurization.
- Ladle ½ cup of the cooking liquid into a bowl. Whisk in the arrowroot flour to make a thick slurry. Pour the slurry back into the pot and stir to thicken the sauce.
- Plate that amazingly aromatic and soul-nourishing stew into bowls and dig in, son.
However, I would not advise using the Instant Pot to thaw/cook large cuts like rump roasts and whole chickens as I can’t vouch for food safety guidelines there.
I hope this recipe serves you in those desperate crunch times with just a few hours to get a hearty dinner on the table. Helping make slow food for fast families is my mission, and the Instant Pot is my favorite weapon of fast consumption.
If you need as much help planning meals as I do, then you are going to love Real Plans by my friend Emily at Holistic Squid. Now, I’ve tested a LOT of planning services; nothing comes close to the recipe choices, features, customization and support real Plans offers. (Including beaucoup Instant Pot recipes!)
It’s a real food-centered meal planning system that allows you to select your base diet (Traditional, Paleo, Vegetarian, etc.) and tailor it to your particular food restrictions. It offers advance meal prep notes in a weekly timeline, and a dynamic shopping list with your preferred stores.
But perhaps the best part of Real Plans is the community. They offer a members-only Facebook group where we regularly share photos of our culinary works of art, and tips for knocking down our cooking obstacles.
To learn more about how Real Plans can revolutionize your real food table, click below:
I’d love to know how this recipe worked out for you. With the help of the miraculous Instant Pot, there’s no reason to let frozen meat give you the cold shoulder.
And that’s real food for thought.
Have you used frozen meat in your Instant Pot? Let me know!
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