Original post- June 27, 2013
Last night, I decided to try something new. My family has always made a beef stew that is really good. It’s plain, but good. My mother and grandmother have always prepared the stew in a pressure cooker. I didn’t have one, so I figured out a way to make it in my trusty crock-pot.
Last year, my husband’s grandmother “broke-up housekeeping” and we inherited some goodies from her extensive kitchen collection. Somehow, I ended up with two pressure cookers. I decided to try stew in a pressure cooker this time for a little different approach and because I need to learn to use one as I have a few recipes in mind to try in the future. I really should have done my research a little more on the safety concerns of pressure cookers!
My mom laid out step by step instructions of how to use a pressure cooker. I got home, pulled the pressure cooker out of the cabinet, opened the lid, and there was some funny, holey flat part of the pan that was just lying in the bottom. I had to call and ask her what to do with it. Then, the little “jiggly” thing that goes on top had three different holes. I just stuck it on top. I probably didn’t do it right and I’m still curious as to why it has three holes…
Once the “jiggly” thing started making noise and dancing around I turned down the heat and let it cook for an hour. Then, I took the pan off the stove and freaked out because the “jiggly” thing on top went crazy. I ran the pot to the sink, turned on the cold water, stuck the pressure cooker underneath (that was the instructions!), and the jiggling finally stopped. My mom told me that there should be something on top that would go down and once it did, I could open the top. I discovered we must have very different pressure cookers. My pot had nothing of the sort. I took it to the side and tried opening it. I was pushing the handle as hard as I could and it wouldn’t budge. I picked up the oven mitt and threw it on top of the pot lid and admitted defeat. I figured my husband could figure it out when he got home.
When the oven mitt landed on the lid it hit the “jiggly thing”and I heard the pressure release a little. I pushed the “jiggly” thing to the side and a huge gust of air came out and the top popped off with very little force. I added the potatoes, cooked for 20 minutes or so and repeated the same process (I just didn’t waste time trying to force it the second time).
Russ got home and we ate dinner and I was laughing about it and telling him the story of how it wouldn’t open. I couldn’t figure out why he was looking at me like I was crazy. He said, “Kristy, do you realize that if that lid would have opened, it would have been a hospital trip? You have to release the pressure to open the lid.” That’s when the light bulb clicked on. I swear my brain is on vacation this week or something. I’m not normally this dense. I’m always horrible at cooking, but I usually know when something is safe or not. So, thank the good Lord above the lid did not open. If you aren’t sure how to use a pressure cooker, I can’t really help because I still don’t know what I did, but I know to release the pressure before you open the lid!!!
I took a picture of the leftover stew. I have been experimenting by adding carrots to it, but I ran out the night before and I haven’t been grocery shopping yet. I want to try onion as well, but I didn’t think about it last night. I will include my usual crock-pot recipe below as well as the instructions my mom gave me for the pressure cooker. Like I mentioned above, it is a very plain recipe, but it is a good filling dinner that isn’t too bad on the wallet!
1 lb of stew meat
5-6 medium to large potatoes (cut in cubes)
Crock-Pot: Put stew meat and potatoes into the crock pot with 1 1/2 C water. Cook on low 6 hours. Use a potato masher to mash meat and stew together. Serve. Season with salt and pepper.
Pressure Cooker: Put meat into pot. Fill the pot about halfway with water. (Some crock-pots have a line in them that tells how much water to put in.) Cook on high until the “jiggly” thing starts shaking. Turn down to medium heat. Let cook for 60-90 minutes. Remove from heat and put pot under running cold water. Once pressure is released, open the lid and put in the potatoes. (If the water is really low, add a little more, but there should be enough left.) Secure lid and cook on high again until the thing on top starts shaking. Turn to medium and continue cooking for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and put pot under cold running water again. Release pressure and open lid. Use a potato masher to mash meat and stew together. Serve. Season with salt and pepper.