Do You Instant Pot? + Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine & Chile Recipe
Do you instant pot? Have you too been caught up in the tidal wave of what some are calling the first-ever viral appliance? I just received one for Christmas, and so far I’m just hanging out on the edge, dipping my toes in. These machines hadn’t even come onto my radar till mid-last year when my slow-cooker decided that even “slow” was too much for it and it died. I’ve never been terribly dependent on appliances and mostly used it for chicken stock, which I make regularly.
When I heard about this 7-in-1 miracle machine, all kinds of sugar-plum visions danced in my head—rice! yogurt! beans! pork belly! jelly! slow! fast! It was all very exciting, and somewhat vertiginous, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I’m still a dabbler, of course, but I have learned a couple of things. 1) This probably won’t replace anyone’s rice cooker. My one attempt was dismal, proving that rice is tricky no matter what vehicle takes it from raw to cooked. It’s also no faster at all in the Instant Pot, so I’ll probably stick to the old stove-top. 2) What this machine truly excels at are stews and braises—those dishes that are naturally glacially slow to get done can truly be ready in under an hour as opposed to a 3 or 4 hour stint in the oven. I’m looking forward to trying out beans and yogurt, two other problem children.
As I put this pot through its paces, I’m happy to share a recipe that turned out really well in the Instant Pot. It’s from Melissa Clark, author of 38 (!) cookbooks. She has recently done quite a bit of research and testing with the Instant Pot, making life much easier for us pressure-cooking-neophytes. Her most recent book, Dinner in an Instant , is full of great-sounding recipes, many of which can be cooked with the slow-cooker function, as well. And as any tortoise-and-hare story-lover can tell you, sometimes slow and steady beats fast and crazy.
So—on to our recipe, Short Ribs with Red Wine & Chile. Short ribs are tough and notoriously fatty, but the pressure cooker does an admirable job at breaking them down in a mere 40 minutes. Chipotle and prunes add a spicy-sweet complexity, amped up with the red wine. The wine and prunes are not exactly discernible in the finished stew, but their deep tones would leave it noticeably flatter were they missing. Melissa has you finish the dish with a sprinkle of scallions, but I think the freshness of parsley would be more welcome. Oh, and do try to remove as much fat as you can—I’m not afraid of fat, but short ribs produce prodigious amounts of it!
Instant Pot Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine & Chile
I’ve reduced the chipotle to 2 tsp. down from 1 Tbs., and it was plenty spicy for us. The heat, which was much more pronounced upon first cooking, tamed considerably when reheated…adjust to your liking. You can use either the Sauté function or a large skillet to brown the meat and aromatics. I’ve done both, but I have come to prefer the skillet as I find the sauté function to be too hot (even on the “less” setting), and difficult to regulate. Instructions are included for both. I also include suggestions for slow-cooking and oven-cooking. We really enjoyed this with saffron mashed potatoes, which gave it a lovely Spanish vibe!
Adapted from The New York Times
Serves 6 to 8
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus extra
3 to 4 lb. beef short ribs, on the bone
1 Tbs. oil or other fat
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned and sliced
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and chopped
6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. ground chipotle chile powder
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup pitted chopped prunes
Sliced scallions or parsley, to finish
Grind coriander seeds and black peppercorns to a powder, and mix with the salt. Rub into the short ribs, and let stand at least an hour and as long as overnight.
Turn on the Sauté function, or heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil. Brown the beef on all sides, and remove to a plate. Or, if using a skillet, remove to the Instant Pot insert.
Add the leeks, fennel, and 1/2 tsp. salt to the pot or skillet, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, till softened. Add garlic, chipotle powder, and tomato paste, and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and prunes, scraping up the bottom. Add the beef back to the pot. If using the skillet, pour the contents over the beef already in the pot.
Cover, seal, and cook 40 minutes at High Pressure. If you used the skillet, you can shorten the time needed to come up to pressure by turning the pot to Sauté just till it heats up, then switch to Pressure. After 40 minutes, you can either manually release the pressure or let it release naturally (allowing the pressure to release naturally allows it to continue cooking for a bit). Either way, if the sauce seems thin, remove the meat and sauté till reduced.
Let the braise settle for a while, then spoon off as much fat as you can. Letting it chill enough to harden before removing would be ideal, but not strictly necessary. I also typically remove the meat from the bones and remaining bits of fat to make it easier to eat, but that’s a personal preference. Serve scattered with scallion or parsley.
To slow-cook, transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker (or use the Instant Pot’s slow cooker function), add remaining ingredients, and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours or Low for about 8 hours. You may find that you need more liquid.
I have not tested this, but I imagine that you could braise this in the oven. I would transfer the browned meat and sautéed vegetables to a roasting pan. Increase the liquid to come up the sides of the solids about halfway. Cover with foil, and bake at 300° about 3 hours, till meat nearly falls off the bone. Remove the foil lid for the last hour to thicken the sauce. If you try this, let me know how it turns out!