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Cook the Book: Boeuf en Daube Proven├žal

After yesterday's resoundingly successful chicken broth made in less than an hour with the help of my new pressure cooker, I was curious to see what other tricks this magical vessel had up its sleeve. The broth was incredible, but, as chicken breaks down fairly easily, I wanted to try something a little tougher—a cut of meat that takes hours to tenderize under normal circumstances.

For my next pressure-cooking project I settled on Boeuf en Daube Provencal, a French version of beef stew from Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass. The recipe sounded very appealing, with its combination of red wine, anchovies, and oil-cured black olives, and the cut of meat called for (boneless chuck or round) was tough enough to put the pressure cooker to the test. I was keen to see if the gadget would be able to render the beef tender and stew-worthy in 16(!) minutes.

This is another stew recipe that calls for no browning, which I was concerned might take away from the richness of the flavor. In this case the meat in marinated in red wine, herbs, tomato paste, and anchovies for a few hours or overnight. I marinated mine for just about an hour due to the time constraints of getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. Once everything went into the cooker and the correct amount of pressure was reached I set the timer for 16 minutes.

After the pressure dropped I unlocked the lid and found something that looked a whole lot like a prefect pot of stew. The meat was falling apart tender and the flavors were deep and earthy. The only problem was that the liquid didn't thicken quite as much as it should for a dish such as this. Sass rectifies of this issue by adding a small amount of cornstarch, and it thickened up in a matter of minutes with no tell tale signs of the cornstarch cheat.

Over steaming bowls of stew my dining partner commented that "the stew was so good, it was kind of crazy that it had only taken a little over half an hour total." It was much better than many of the stews that I've simmered for hours on end. This made me question my past stews, of course, but also wonder why its taken me so long to get my hands on a pressure cooker.

Win Make it Fast, Cook it Slow

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Cooking Under Pressure to give away this week.

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