Do you ever give yourself kitchen challenges? Every now and again I impose a set of parameters on myself to see if I can bring a meal in at a certain cost, with a specified number of ingredients or within an allotted amount of time.

For the Dinner in Minutes column, I strive to find recipes that can be made in 30 minutes — 45 minutes, max. That can be a challenge, especially when it comes to beef stew, a dish I crave when the temperature dips in autumn.

I was eager to dig into tender meat and just-softened vegetables all piled into a bowl with brown gravy and served with a warmed, crusty loaf.

The challenge: Even in a multicooker, just about every recipe I have tried came in at over an hour. Certain fundamental elements contributed to this: The meat must be browned, the vegetables must be chopped, the multicooker takes at least 10 minutes to come up to pressure, and the stew itself must cook under pressure for at least 25 minutes to bring the flavors together.

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The only time-saving measure I could find that did not affect the flavor was to turn to convenience foods. I selected precut stew meat, baby new potatoes (bite-size), baby carrots and frozen peas and pearl onions. I also relied on minced garlic and onion rather than fresh for the seasoning. This eliminated chopping altogether. (If you have the time, go ahead and chop fresh vegetables.)

To give the stew’s broth a flavor boost — the richness that usually comes from all that simmering time — I added a bit of tomato paste and subbed out half of the beef stock for full-bodied red wine.

With the Instant Pot, the meat is sauteed just until brown and then the rest of the ingredients are dumped into the cooker and pressure-cooked together.

This resulted in a satisfying stew that scratched my itch for a belly-warming dinner. Even with this method, the stew took about 5 minutes longer than I would have liked, but with an active cooking time of only 15 to 20 minutes, I hope you will let that slide.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup no-salt beef stock, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup full-bodied red wine, such as a zinfandel or cabernet, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound new baby potatoes, quartered if larger than bite-size
  • 8 ounces baby carrots
  • 8 ounces frozen peas-and-pearl onions medley, not defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Step 1

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, thyme, paprika and pepper flakes.

Place the beef in a large bowl, sprinkle the seasoning mixture over it and toss until the meat is coated.


Step 2

Set a programmable multicooker (such as an Instant Pot) to SAUTE. Let the pot heat for 2 minutes, then add the oil and meat to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total, and transfer the meat to a plate.


Step 3

While the meat browns, in a medium bowl whisk together the stock, wine and tomato paste. Pour the liquid into the empty Instant Pot and scrape any browned bits from the bottom.


Step 4

Return the beef, and any accumulated juices on the plate, to the pot and add the potatoes, carrots, peas and pearl onions, as well as the dried garlic and dried onion. Stir to combine.

Make sure the steam valve is sealed. Select PRESSURE (HIGH) and set to 25 minutes. (It takes about 10 minutes for the appliance to come to pressure before cooking begins.)


Step 5

Release the pressure manually by moving the pressure-release handle to “Venting,” covering your hand with a towel and making sure to keep your hand and face away from the vent when releasing steam.

Stir in the parsley, if using. Taste and season with more with salt and pepper, if needed. If the stew is too dry, add an additional splash of beef stock and/or wine.


Nutrition Information

Calories: 553; Total Fat: 32 g; Saturated Fat: 12 g; Cholesterol: 107 mg; Sodium: 359 mg; Carbohydrates: 26 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 30 g.


Recipe from recipes editor Ann Maloney.

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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