Comfort cuisine cuts through the cold

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Stews can be simmered on the stove, heated all day in a slow cooker, or even made quickly in a pressure cooker-slow cooker hybrid such as Instant Pot. The following stew recipes—from the National Beef Checkoff and the American Lamb Board—will provide bowlfuls of nourishing goodness.

French Country Beef Stew

2½ pounds of stew beef, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups water
1 package (.9-1.68 ounces) dry vegetable soup mix
1 pound baby red-skinned potatoes, cut into quarters
8 ounces mushrooms, cut in half
1 pound asparagus, cut into 2" pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in ¼ cup water
salt and pepper

In a stockpot, combine beef, water and soup mix; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer 1¾-2¼ hours or until beef is fork-tender.

Add potatoes and mushrooms to stockpot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in asparagus; continue cooking, covered, 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Instant Pot Middle Eastern Lamb Stew

The American Lamb Board shares the following for a savory stew, noting that it can be prepared in an Instant Pot or on the stove in a Dutch oven.

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 onion, diced
1½-1¾ pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1½" cubes
4-6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon EACH: salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin seeds
½ teaspoon chili flakes, plus more for garnish
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
1¼ cups chicken stock or broth
15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup raisins or dried apricots, chopped
quinoa, couscous or basmati rice, cooked according to package directions
Italian parsley or cilantro for garnish

Turn the Instant Pot on, and set it to the sauté function. Heat the butter or oil and sauté´ the onion for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant. Add the lamb, garlic, salt and all the spices, and sauté an additional 5 minutes until fragrant. Add the vinegar, tomato paste, honey, stock, chickpeas and raisins or apricots, and stir until combined.

Cover, and set the Instant Pot to the “meat stew” setting, or pressure cook for 1 hour on normal/high.

Let the pressure release, and give stew a stir. The lamb should be tender and break apart easily.

Serve with cooked quinoa, couscous or basmati rice, and garnish with fresh Italian parsley or cilantro and extra chili flakes.

If using a Dutch oven, preheat the oven to 325°. Brown the onions in butter, and then add the garlic, lamb, salt and spices, cooking for 5-6 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the raisins or apricots, and bring to a simmer. Cover, place in the oven and bake for 2 hours, adding the raisins or apricots about an hour into the baking time.

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