Saturday, August 27, 2005

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

This meal took about an hour to make. A pretty good deal, I think. Usually it takes me 5-6 hours to make this stew in the oven, or even longer in a crockpot.
This recipe is from the Mirro manual that came with my pressure cooker. It's for a 6-8 quart cooker. Another note: usually I use a chuck roast for my stew. The meat is more tender and, a lot of times, cheaper. But since I was using the pressure cooker and the stew meat was on sale, I used that instead. I found the meat to be just as tender as my usual stew.

3# stew meat
2 Tbsp shortening
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika-I used half-sharp
1 3/4 cups water
2 medium onions, chopped
7-8 carrots, cut in half
8 potatoes, peeled and cut in half or quarters

Brown the beef in the shortening in small batches. Remove from pot and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika (I ended up using more than the suggested amounts of the spices).

Place the rack in the bottom of the cooker and return the meat to it. Cover and bring to pressure at 10 lbs. Once pressure is reached, cook for 10 minutes. Cool by turning the heat off for 5 minutes, then run under cool water to release the pressure.

Add the veggies. Cover and bring back to 10 lbs pressure and cook for 10 minutes.
Cool instantly by removing from heat and running under cool water.

Remove the stew to a bowl and make gravy with the drippings. Pour the gravy over the stew and toss to coat. Serves 8-10

Pour drippings into a measuring cup. For each cup of drippings, you'll need a thickener made of 2 Tablespoons flour and 1/4 cup of cool water. This stew made a little over 3 cups of gravy, so my thickener was 3/4 cups cool water and 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour.
Bring the drippings back to a simmer, stir in the thickener and cook, stirring constantly until smooth and there is no flour taste.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Freezing Okra

No photo today. Just a bit of thinking. For the "Sugar & Spice" column in The Lancaster News, I included a blurb about freezing okra. Here is what I said:

"Okra is coming in abundantly now and it’s a good time to lay some by for those winter soups. Start a pot of water boiling. Wash the okra pods and cut off the stem ends without cutting into the pods. Drop the okra into the boiling water and allow it to cook for 4 minutes. If your okra is small, cook for 3 minutes. Remove the pods from the water and cool immediately by dropping into a bowl of ice water. Drain. Slice the okra into rounds or leave whole. Pack into zip-top bags, being sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace in the bag when sealed. Freeze. Vegetables can be frozen for 8-12 months at 0 degrees.
From the Iowa State University Extension Service"

What I did NOT say is that my own preferred method is to skip the blanching and just cut the okra into 1-inch pieces and freeze them. I did this last year because I'd been advised that I could freeze bell peppers without blanching them. I just chopped the peppers into medium-sized pieces and froze them in snack-sized bags. I figured...what could happen? It's not like I'm going to thaw the okra and eat it raw. It goes into soups and gumbos. So I just skipped the blanching.

I'm still alive.

I did find a spot on that suggests freezing without blanching. But I'm not going to have that printed in the paper. When it comes to advising others, better to be safe than sorry.