Experimenting with food is a fantastic way to recreate these culinary memories. Let's face it. We all have them. Good food is something we share with friends and family, and is often the centerpiece of some of life's most important moments. There is often food on first dates, during marriage proposals, holidays, and food is even used to celebrate other momentous occasions. Food not only sustains us as human beings, it is also sentimental and comforting.
I think that's why I love cooking so much. I want my family to associate food with these special memories. And food can certainly be memorable in itself! When I cook, I prefer to make things from scratch. No Hamburger Helper here, please! The only thing we prefer a boxed mix for are mashed potatoes. We love them! Of course, I doctor them up so they're not so plain. But everything else, I create myself. I actually never follow a recipe when I cook. Unless, of course, I am baking. Baking is a science, and require exactness. When I prepare meals for my family and friends, I love to experiment by combining different flavors and textures, even ones that may not seem overly conventional. Cooking offers a wonderful outlet for creativity, and it's an art that I thoroughly enjoy.
One of my biggest challenges as a busy mom of 3 kids, a wife, and a blogger, is finding the time to cook delicious meals. I often end up spending hours in the kitchen. On a busy weeknight, this isn't always ideal. Sometimes I need to get dinner on the table FAST. While there are plenty of quick and easy meals that are satisfying, sometimes you just crave that comfort food that generally takes all day long to cook.
That's why I was so excited to receive the opportunity to review the Fagor Electric Multi-Cooker. This small kitchen appliance is a veritable powerhouse. It slow-cooks, browns, warms, pressure-cooks, and also acts as a rice-cooker! How cool is that?! Plus, Fagor is a name that has long been recognized as a leader in high-quality cookware. They have a fabulous reputation with professional and home cooks alike! But the thing I was most excited about? In reviewing this product, I also got to learn a cooking method I have never tried before: Pressure cooking.
Pressure cooking has been around for ages. Food made using this method comes out tender, tasty, and cooks in a fraction of the time it would take to cook using conventional methods. Pressure cooking also helps seal in more nutrients, making for a healthier diet. I have always been a bit leery of pressure cooking, as I have heard horror stories of the pressure cooker exploding, causing a huge mess, or even worse, injury. So while I have always been curious about this method, I never had the courage to try it for myself. Until now. You see, the Fagor Electric Multi-Cooker is perfectly safe. The lid remains on the pot, and it won't even open if there is pressure in the cooker. This eased my fears quite a bit! So once I read and re-read the instruction manual, I built up my confidence and decided to make some Beef Stew using the pressure cooker setting of the machine.
I couldn't believe how easy it was! Once I had my ingredients prepped, I simply added some olive oil to the removable, dishwasher safe cooking pot, and I set the stew meat to brown. Once it was browned on all sides, I added my minced garlic, my herbs and other seasonings, and then I added my veggies. Once they were mixed together, I simply added my cooking liquid, set the pressure to high, set the timer for 20 minutes and walked away. I was SO skeptical that I could produce a good quality stew with only 20 minutes cooking time. Cheaper cuts of meat like Stew Meat are often tough and require slow-cooking to achieve the desired tenderness. As far as I was concerned, it simply could not happen in a mere 20 minutes.
Well, I couldn't have been more wrong! After the timer went off, I turned the valve to the steam-release setting and waited. I couldn't believe the amount of steam that was freed from my Fagor Electric Multi-Cooker! For a good 60 seconds, there was a steady stream of steam being let out of the unit. Wow! After I was sure that the pressure had been adequately released, I opened the lid to check out my stew. Oh. My. Goodness. What awaited me in the pot was pure heaven! The meat was fall-apart tender, the vegetables were cooked to absolute perfection, and the flavors from the herbs and spices was beautifully infused into the stew. This just may have been the best stew I have ever eaten!
I would love to share the beef stew recipe I made using my Fagor Electric Multi-Cooker. If you have a pressure cooker, I would love to hear your feedback!
Brandy's Easy Beef Stew:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds stew meat, cubed
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour for coating
- Emeril's Original Essence
- 1 teaspoon beef bullion
- 2 cups red wine
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons mined garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 4 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 xan 8oz can tomato sauce
- 1 can mushrooms
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 4 large potatoes, cubed
- Chop vegetables and set aside.
- Combine flour and Emeril's Original Essence.
- Coat Stew Meat with the flour mixture.
- Set the Pressure Cooker to Brown, and add olive oil and minced garlic. When you hear a sizzle and the garlic has begun to brown, add stew meat and stir, making sure it browns on all sides.
- Add red wine, bullion, Worcestershire, tomato sauce and sugar to the pot. Stir.
- Add chopped vegetables and mushrooms to the pot. Stir.
- Add remaining seasonings and Bay Leaf to the mixture. Stir.
- If there is not enough liquid in the pot, add more wine or even water until the desired level of liquid is reached. You can always thicken it later!
- Set pressure cooker to high pressure. Make sure the pressure setting has been selected on the valve as well.
- Set timer for 20 minutes. If using the Fagor Electric Multi-Cooker, the timer will begin counting down once sufficient pressure has been reached.
- When timer goes off, carefully release the pressure, making sure to keep the flow of steam away from your person.
- If stew needs thickening, simply mix a bit of flour and water in a measuring cup until no lumps are present. Stir into stew and allow it to thicken for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Enjoy some of the quickest, tastiest stew you'll ever eat!
You can purchase this and other fine Fagor products on their website. You can also use their handy retail locator to find an authorized Fagor retailer near you!
You can also follow Fagor on Facebook and on twitter to stay on top of their latest products and promotions!
***Disclosure: I received a complimentary product to facilitate my review. No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***