I had some beetroots, prunes and 70% chocolate in the cupboard, as well as quite a lot of shin, brisket, oxtail and trottery goodness in the fridge. So I decided I might as well see what happened when I put them all together in my Instant Pot for a decadent beef stew. I figured a touch of Middle Eastern spices rarely goes amiss. And cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves complement chocolate well. While prunes, orange and chocolate also go together well, and beef, orange and chocolate go well. The beetroot was a little bit of a wild card, but I figured it might just work.
“This should be interesting”, I thought. Hopefully not too interesting to eat, however. I also thought “wish me luck”.
I do enjoy a good beef stew, particularly in the winter. And I was delighted with the way it turned out in the end. Very flavourful, and unctuous with all the gelatinous stock. Don’t you love how a nice beef stew can really warm the cockles of your heart on a cold winter’s day? Well that’s exactly what this recipe does.
You could swap out the tough cuts of meat (oxtail, brisket and shin), and instead use cubes of stewing steak. You won’t need to cook it for as long if you’re using stewing steak. 40 minutes on high pressure in the Instant Pot should do the trick. Or if you’re using a slow cooker you could try 7-8 hours on low.
You could definitely add some lions mane mushrooms to this recipe as well, if you are trying to find ways to include this amazing nootropic fungus. Just rehydrate the dried lions mane mushrooms, chop them up, and add with the other vegetables.
Just like any other stew, this will be better on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th day.
Serving suggestions for this rich beef stew include a green leafy salad tossed in a light vinaigrette. You could serve alongside boiled or steamed rice, boiled potatoes, or even noodles (you could use konjac, courgetti noodles, rice, buckwheat, gluten free, or if you tolerate gluten just plain noodles). A large dollop of live natural plain yogurt or Greek yogurt cuts through the sweetness from the beetroot and prunes.
I don’t even remember what a good quality bread tastes like any more. But if you’re fortunate enough to be able to still get away with eating gluten, then this would be the sort of beef stew that you could mop up with great big chunks of a white bloomer.
To make this AIP compliant swap ground mace for the nutmeg, and omit the pepper and chocolate. You could try replacing the chocolate with some carob powder, but I haven’t tried this. I would guess that you would have to make a paste with the carob powder first. Try mixing 2-3 tablespoons of carob powder in water first, then adding it along with the spices.
This beef stew is very high in oxalates, between the beetroot and the chocolate or carob powder, so opt for low oxalate greens, like boy choy, to complement it.
- 3 tablespoons dripping or tallow
- 500g oxtail
- 500g shin
- 500g brisket
- 150g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 small raw beetroots, chopped
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups trottery goodness
- 6 prunes, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- zest and juice of 1 organic orange (use a vegetable peeler to peel the strips of zest off, or you could grate the zest in. The peeler method is faster and less messy)
- 50g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- fresh parsley to garnish
Put the Instant Pot on sauté mode, add the dripping, and when it melts brown the beef in batches.
Set the browned beef aside, then add the bacon and cook until crispy. Then add the onions, beetroot, celery and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes until soft and tender, stirring often.
Return the beef to the pot, add the stock, prunes, bay, and spices, orange zest and juice, salt and pepper, and stir well to coat and combine. Make sure that all the meat is submerged in liquid.
Then close the Instant Pot, make sure the valve is closed, and cook on high for 90 minutes.
If the meat wasn’t completely submerged when you started pressure cooking then you will probably have to break the pressure cooking step into 2 parts. Sorry about this. But the meat needs to be submerged in liquid while it’s cooking, or it will end up tough.
So if you notice that some of the meat is sticking up out of the liquid initially, and you can’t get it to nestle down in a bath of stock, you’ll need to set the Instant Pot for 30 minutes first. This will allow a lot of the liquid to cook out of the meat and vegetables. You can let it vent naturally, or release the pressure yourself. Open the Instant Pot, give everything a good stir, and make sure that it’s now all submerged. Close the lid again, and cook on manual for 90 minutes.
Let it vent naturally, or release the pressure yourself. Open the Instant Pot, give everything another good stir, and make sure the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
Finally break the chocolate into pieces, add it to the stew, and stir well until melted. Let it meld for 10 minutes with the lid closed, stir again, and serve.
Other cooking methods
Can't be bothered with the sautéing step?
Just throw all the ingredients, apart from the chocolate, into the Instant Pot, and cook on high for 90 minutes. When it has vented, break in the chocolate pieces, stir until melted. Let it meld for 10 minutes, use 2 forks to tear apart the meat, stir again and serve.
Slow Cooker Method
Throw all the ingredients, apart from the chocolate, into the slow cooker. You’ll need more liquid, because you’ll tend to lose more during cooking. Cover up the beef and other ingredients with water, or more stock. Cook on low for 14-16 hours. Add the broken chocolate half an hour before the end of cooking. Let it meld for 10 minutes, use 2 forks to tear apart the meat. Stir again and serve.
Stove Top Method
This is just like the first method, except instead of using the Instant Pot, you’ll be cooking in a large oven-proof casserole or stock pot.
Preheat the oven to 160℃.
Sautée the bacon until crispy over medium heat, then set aside. Add the dripping, then the beef, and sautée in batches until browned. Don’t overcrowd the pan.
Set the browned beef aside, then add the onions, beetroot, celery and garlic, and fry for about 5 minutes until soft and tender, stirring often.
Put the bacon, beef, and fried vegetables in the casserole, add the stock, prunes, bay, and spices, orange zest and juice, salt and pepper. Top up with water or more stock so that all the meat is submerged. Stir well to coat and combine. Place the casserole into the hot oven. Cook for 4 hours, covered.
Remove the casserole from the oven, add the broken chocolate. Return to the oven for 15 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. Remove again, use 2 forks to shred the meat. Stir well and serve.