Sunday, March 24, 2013

Old Fashion Stewed Beef

Last Thursday, I was privileged enough to be invited to a wonderful luncheon that I look forward to every year. This event is always catered and typically features chicken, various sides, and an assortment of homemade pies. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE CHICKEN, but this year, they mixed it up. Instead of the typical chicken lunch, we were treated to a tender, thinly sliced roast served with pan gravy and potatoes. When I took the first bite of the meat, I was taken back to my childhood.
When I was growing up, I remember, very clearly, my nana's stewed beef piled high over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. The meat was so tender that it literally fell apart. The gravy was flavorful, but simple. I loved this meal!
Now, I will be honest, I have tried several times to replicate this meal over the past 4 years with no luck. So when I decided that I had to find out what I was doing wrong, I immediately picked up the phone and called my mother. Much to my surprise, my biggest mistake was that I was trying to make it too complicated. This meal is about the simple flavors of the beef, the pressure cooking to tenderize the tough cut of meat and the creation of the gravy while the meat cooks. Finally, success!
I hope you will try this recipe. I love it over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, however, you can also serve it over rice.

1 1/2 Pounds Stewing Beef
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
2 Cups Water

1. In a large zipper bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Place the beef cubes into the bag, seal the bag and shake to completely coat, making sure to separate the cubes of beef from each other.
2. In a large pressure cooker pot, place a thin layer of vegetable oil (I started with 2 Tablespoons) and heat over medium heat until hot.
3. Using tongs, remove the beef from the flour bag and shake off the excess coating. Place in the hot oil and brown for approximately 2 minutes per side.
NOTE: Do not overcrowd the pan. They must brown in a single layer. I had to cook mine in 4 batches, removing them to a plate until ready to move to the next step!
4. Add additional oil, if needed, to cook the meat. The beef will not be cooked throughout at this point! This step is only to help set the crust as well as create some flavor deposits on the pan to make the gravy.
5. Return all the meat to the pan and fill with enough water to just come to the top or barely cover the beef. The more water you add, the thinner the gravy will be in the end. I used 1 1/2 cups.
6. Secure the lid to the pressure cooker and set it to the LOW pressurization setting.
7. From the time of pressurization (when the "jiggling" or steam release begins) cook the meat for 35 minutes. After the 35 minutes of pressure cooking, remove from heat and allow to depressurize naturally. The beef will continue to cook during this time.
8. Once the pressure has been released, remove the lid and return the pot to the burner. Allow to simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Taste the gravy at this time. If you need to add additional salt and pepper, do so now and allow to simmer for at least 2 minutes after the additional seasoning is added.
9. To serve, create a bed of mashed potatoes and spoon the beef and gravy over the top.

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