BRRR… it’s getting cold outside. Here in Miami Beach, the temperature dropped to a crisp 85 F. In the shade!
Sorry, food lover; Miamians can’t resist making the rest of the country jealous with their sunny tales during the coldest months. But hey, if you’re freezing your butt off right now, I strongly suggest making this rich, creamy, and shockingly quick Instant Pot Beef Stew. It’s 100% paleo and you only need one pot!
PALEO INSTANT POT BEEF STEW
What makes this beautiful, colorful, nutrient-dense stew paleo is the fact the I did not use any grains, flour, or cornstarch to thicken it. There are more vegetables than meat in this recipe, but they are all low-cal and low-carb. And yet, it’s so creamy! How come? I used onion, garlic, carrots, parsnips, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, plus a crazy amount of fresh herbs… But then I added my favorite secret ingredient: Roasted Calabaza Squash.
WHY ROASTED CALABAZA SQUASH INSTEAD OF POTATOES?
If you are familiar with my blog, you might have noticed that this is not the first time I wax poetic about Calabaza Squash and its virtues. I have already featured it in one of my favorite side dishes, Black Beans with Calabaza Squash, wich goes especially well with my Cuban Ropa Vieja recipe. The thing about using potatoes, the regular kind, is that they are not the healthiest starchy option. Instead, Calabaza Squash (also known as ayote and West Indian pumpkin) is:
- low-calorie (only 35 calories per cup versus 116 calories in potatoes!)
- high in nutrients like vitamin A, C and potassium
- low-carb with only 8 grams of carbs per cup. By comparison, one cup of potato has 26 grams of carbs.
And, in case you are not eating nightshades, like regular potatoes, Calabaza Squash is a great substitute in soups and stews because it easily breaks down into thick, creamy goodness. Just roast it first for half an hour at 400 F, then let it cool off before peeling and seeding it. You can do it well ahead of time and keep some in your fridge to use when needed.
WHAT FLAVORS CAN YOU ADD TO BOOST YOUR INSTANT POT BEEF STEW?
I’m a strong advocate for using bold, fresh herbs in great amounts to add flavor to just about any main dish. Whenever possible, do it. It’s the healthiest and most nutritious way to make it tasty. In my stew, I used fresh thyme, rosemary, and Italian parsley. I actually infused the olive oil with chopped rosemary before sauteing the meat (barely browning really; see the photo below). A step I never skip when cooking meat in a pot. It makes a huge difference!
I also added 1 tbsp of tomato paste (organic, just pure tomato paste, no sugar or other crap added to it) and 1/4 cup of red wine. They are minimally processed ingredients and are both optional, but I love what they do to my stew.
SEAL, SET & FORGET
Once you roughly chop and sauté the ingredients, deglaze the pot with the red wine (see above), add filtered water (for my huge stew, I added about 1/2 cup), and you are ready to seal the lid, set the Instant Pot to “High Pressure” and forget the whole thing for 40-50 minutes.
A few words about the cooking time. I personally don’t believe in buying beef round already chopped for stew and then cutting it up into tiny cubes before cooking it.
Frankly, I’m too lazy or busy to bother. It does not make any difference in the final outcome, so I’m not going to create more mess to clean up or work for myself. Smaller pieces can cook quicker, but I’d rather leave the extra work for my Instant Pot instead of myself. By cooking the stew for at least 40 minutes plus a 10-minute natural steam release, I am sure my beef stew will be super tender, shredding with the touch of a spoon. This particular batch was huge, 4 lbs of meat plus a ton of vegetables, so I set the timer for 50 minutes, just to make sure. But honestly, 40 minutes could have been enough.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE PALEO BEEF STEW IN YOUR INSTANT POT
As I like to say, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures. It’s not complicated at all: just chop, dump, and let your Instant Pot do the work.
Instant Pot Beef Stew (Paleo)
- 4 lb beef chopped for stew
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 onion large
- 2 ribs celery Diced
- 2 carrots Diced
- 2 parsnips
- 1 red bell pepper small
- 1 green bell pepper small
- 2 zucchini medium
- 3 tbsp rosemary Fresh and minced
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 cups calabaza squash roasted, peeled and seeded
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup red wine optional
- 3 tbsp parsley to taste for garnish
- Turn pressure cooker to the "sauté" setting. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and lightly brown the meat in a couple of batches.
- Remove the meat and set aside. Add the 2nd tbsp of olive oil and sauté the chopped rosemary until fragrant.
- Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, tomato paste, roasted calabaza, bell peppers, zucchini. Stir well as you add each ingredient and let them soften.
- Deglaze the pot with the red wine, if you're using it.
- Add the chicken breasts and let them steam for a few minutes.
- Return the beef to the pot. Add a couple the thyme sprigs
- Seal the lid on. Cancel the sauté function and choose the manual "High Pressure" setting on your IP for 45 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes.
- Serve hot and garnish with fresh diced red bell pepper and parsley.
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