Pressure Cooker Mexican Beef

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For the past couple of years, I’ve been making Oven Braised Mexican Beef at least twice a month because it’s simple and delicious—and because the kids’ll actually eat it. But here’s a dirty little secret: these days, I rarely braise it in the oven ’cause I can get similar results in a fraction of the time using a pressure cooker.

I’ve extolled the virtues of pressure cooking before, but it’s truly become one of my favorite cooking methods. (I love pretty much anything that helps me get satisfying meals on the table before I have to rush off to the hospital.) My trusty stovetop pressure cookers have been workhorses in my kitchen for some time now, but I recently treated myself to an Instant Pot because I’d read so many great things about this electric programmable multi-cooker. Also: I’m a gadget hoarder.

In fact, I’m such a hoarder that I’d neglected to break out my Instant Pot for months after buying it. It sat in a box in my garage for months before I managed to de-clutter my kitchen enough to make room for it.

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And now, I’m totally crushing on my Instant Pot. I love that I can make bone broth at a moment’s notice without having to babysit it like a stove-top pressure cooker. Also, the sauté function lets me brown aromatics or meat right in the pot before I throw in the rest of the ingredients. Yippee!

One thing to note: The Instant Pot cooks at a slightly lower pressure (11.6 psi) than my stove top pressure cookers (15 psi), but that just means having to add a few minutes to the cooking time. I increase the cooking time by 7 to 15%, and refer to my friend Laura Pazzaglia’s Hip Pressure Cooking website and charts for specific cooking times. If you’re at all a fan of pressure cooking, I suggest that you do the same. One more thing: even though the dish is finished in about an hour, I often don’t serve it ’til the next day. There’s a scientific reason why stews and braises taste better as leftovers.

So with all of that out of the way, wanna see how I’ve modified my Mexican Beef recipe to work in a pressure cooker?

Ingredients (Serves 4-6):

  • 2½ pounds boneless beef short ribs, beef brisket, or beef chuck roast cut into 1½- to 2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or fat of choice
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ½ cup roasted tomato salsa (like the Salsa Roja Asada from my cookbook or iPad app—or just buy some)
  • ½ cup bone broth
  • ½ teaspoon Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup minced cilantro (optional)
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced (optional)

Here’s what to do:

The process is pretty much the same regardless of whether you use a stove-top pressure cooker or an electric one. The only difference is that your cooking time under high pressure will be slightly shorter with the stove top cooker than with an electric cooker (e.g. 30 minutes vs. 35 minutes).

In a large bowl, combine cubed beef, chili powder, and salt.

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Press the “Sauté” button on your Instant Pot and add the ghee to the cooking insert. Once the fat’s melted, add the onions…

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…and sauté until translucent. 

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(If you’re using a stove top pressure cooker, melt the fat over medium heat and sauté the onions.)

Stir in the tomato paste and garlic, and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

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Toss in the seasoned beef…

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…and pour in the salsa, stock, and fish sauce.

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Cover and lock the lid…

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…and press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button on the Instant Pot. Press the “Meat/Stew” button to switch to the pressure cooking mode. If your cubes are smaller than mine, you can press the “minus” button to decrease the cooking time from the preset 35 minutes. Once the pot is programmed, walk away.

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(If you’re using a stove-top pressure cooker, you won’t have all those buttons to press. Just cook on high heat until high pressure is reached. Then, reduce the heat to low to maintain high pressure for about 30 minutes.)

When the stew is finished cooking, the Instant Pot will switch automatically to a “Keep Warm” mode. If you’re using a stove-top pressure cooker instead, remove the pot from the heat. In either case, let the pressure release naturally (~15 minutes).

Unlock the lid and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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At this point, you can plate and serve—or store the beef in the fridge for up to 4 days and reheat right before serving.

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When you’re ready to eat,  top the hot stew with cilantro and radishes if you’ve got ‘em.