Recipe: Pressure Cooker Belgian Beer Beef Stew (Carbonnade)

I cooked more elaborate meals and was more experimental and adventurous in my culinary endeavours during the year I was on maternity leave, than I ever have been in my life.

There’s one simple reason for this – I was bored! Intellectual power that would otherwise be used in work or study had no other outlet, and so I spent all this intellectual power in meal-planning, curating the perfect shopping list, and cooking.

Now that I’ve been back at work for over a year, I think we’ve probably eaten the same seven meals every week – I no longer have the time to spend on planning and cooking new dishes.

Yet there are some recipes trialled during my year of maternity leave that were real successes which have been added to my standard repertoire. Case in point – this Belgian Beer Beef Stew, which I believe is more commonly known as carbonnade.

It is very meat-heavy so rather than eating it by itself, I do tend to make a big batch and serve it up with a lot of green veggies on the side. Great served on top of some buttered pasta as well!

Note – this recipe is for a Phillips All-In-One Pressure and Slow Cooker.

Ingredients

All the ingredients (spot the baby in the background of the photo!)
  • Approximately 1kg of beef chuck steak (I got mine marked down – freshness doesn’t matter so much in this dish because you cook it for so long!)
  • 1/4 cup of plain flour
  • About 100gm of butter
  • About six rashers of bacon (I use short-cut – you can use whatever cut you prefer)
  • A whole head of garlic
  • Two onions – I used red onions for the sweetness
  • One bottle of Belgian beer (I used Hoegaarden)
  • One cup of stock (I used chicken because that’s what I had – but beef would suit best)
  • Two tablespoons of dark brown sugar
  • One lemon
  • Two dried bay leaves
  • Fresh parsley

Method

Dice up the beef into small chunks – about 5cm cubes work well. Coat the beef in the plain flour.

While you’re doing this, heat up a drizzle of olive oil in the Phillips All-In-One Pressure Cooker on the High Saute/Sear mode.

Sear and seal the beef in the cooker, then remove from the pot.

Add the butter into the pot, keep it on the High Saute/Sear mode. Add in the bacon (diced), garlic (diced), and onions (sliced) and cook until softened and smoky. Add half the bottle of beer, and keep cooking on High Saute/Sear mode until it reduces by half.

Return the beef to the pot, with the other half bottle of beer, stock, juice from one lemon, brown sugar, bay leaves, and parsley. Add pepper and salt to taste. Let the liquid reduce to half again, then put the cooker in Manual Pressure Cooker mode for half an hour, and put the lid on.

Once the pressure cooker has finished, release the steam and open the lid. If the mix is still too liquidy, put the cooker back on Saute/Sear mode to reduce it down. Importantly – add more salt and pepper to taste as appropriate!

Serve as you wish – I served it here with some buttered pasta underneath to soak up the delicious stew juices, and with some green beans. You might also like to serve it on a bed of rice with steamed broccoli, or even just with some fresh crusty bread and a side salad.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Chicken, Chorizo and Chickpeas (adapted from Serious Eats)

Note: this recipe is adapted from Serious Eats 30-Minute Pressure Cooker Chicken With Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Chorizo Recipe to better suit an Australian audience on a budget using the Phillips All-In-One Cooker. Budget and grocery shopping notes are in italics.

Total cost for six serves: approximately $19 (not counting vegetable and carb sides), or $3.17 per serve.

Ingredients

  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Two chorizo sausages
  • Two medium-sized brown onions
  • Tablespoon of paprika
  • Tablespoon of dried chilli flakes
  • Drop of liquid smoke
  • Two cans of chickpeas
  • Two cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1kg of chicken pieces
  • 350ml of chicken stock
  • Half a lemon
  • Parsley to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Slice the chorizo into thin slices.
You can buy chorizo on half-price sale at least once every two months at either Coles or Woolworths. When they go on sale, I’ll usually buy a dozen and freeze them to use over the coming weeks. This takes the cost down to $1.50 per chorizo, rather than $3 per chorizo.

Set your pressure cooker to Sauté/Sear – High Temp for two minutes. Heat up the olive oil in the pot, and leave the chorizo in to fry until slightly crispy.

Slice the onion into thin slices, and add to the pressure cooker. Add another three minutes to the Sauté/Sear – High Temp mode.

After three minutes, add the washed and rinsed chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and chicken stock and stir.
Canned goods like chickpeas and diced tomatoes go on sale regularly, it’s worth stocking up when they hit about $1 a can. Alternatively, you can buy them for about 90c a can regularly at Aldi. You can also make your own chicken stock to save money, or buy it from Aldi for about $2 for a litre. 

Add the paprika, dried chilli flakes, and a drop of liquid smoke. 
The original recipe calls for fire-roasted tomatoes – as that’s a bit harder to find in Australia for a good price, I added a drop of Tone’s Liquid Smoke instead. You only need a single drop or two for it to add a wonderful smokey flavour to whatever you’re cooking. A $6.99 bottle can last you an entire six months because you use it so sparingly!

Add 1kg of chicken pieces, and close the pressure cooker. Set it to Manual Pressure Cooker mode for twenty minutes. 
The original recipe calls for an entire chicken cut into pieces – that’s a bit too fiddly for me, so I used 1kg of chicken thigh cutlets (six cutlets in total) instead. This was $8.50/kg, but you could go even more budget and opt for chicken drumsticks, wings or maryland (ranges from $3.50/kg – $6/kg).

While the pressure cooker is doing its thing, prepare your sides. I like to just steam up whatever veggies are on special that week – green beans, asparagus, broccoli, etc., or you can prepare a simple salad instead. You’ll also want some carbs to soak up the yummy sauce – rice, cous cous, or use spaghetti as I did as I had an unused half pack. 

Release the pressure in the pressure cooker, and open the lid. Keep it on a high temperature (back to Sauté/Sear – High Temp Mode) and stir until the sauce thickens up. 

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the pot, and more salt and pepper to taste if needed. 
The recipe calls for sherry vinegar to taste, but I’ve substituted with lemon juice. I don’t know about you, but sherry vinegar isn’t an ingredient that I cook with regularly, so lemons off the neighbour’s tree is my preference!

Serve topped with parsley in bowls on top of your carb base, with veggies on the side.

Recipes for a Spice Girls-themed party

Twenty years ago, the greatest girl group of all time were at the peak of their fame. Victoria Adams, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown and Geraldine Halliwell were taking the entire world by storm, and given I was a tween, I fell right into Girl Power-mania. My collection of Spice Girl photos and posters was unrivaled amongst my peers.

My love for the Spice Girls has never dwindled, and even now I would happily shell out $500 for a ticket to a reunion concert…presuming of course, that all five original members would be involved!

In the absence of a true worldwide reunion tour, holding a Spice Girls-themed party complete with a screening of movie classic Spice World and themed snacks is my only consolation. The rest of this entry gives an overview of the different dishes I chose to serve up at my party, and offers a few other ideas of what you might serve at your own Spice Girls-themed Spice World screening party!

Baby Jellies

I served up a bowl of The Natural Confectionery Company’s Jelly Babies to represent Baby Spice. This was an easy zero-effort option, given that I knew I’d be spending some time in the kitchen making other dishes. Plus, who doesn’t like a bowl full of jelly babies?

You might also like to serve: Baked mushy bananas with cream, cake pops, fresh cut baby vegetables with hummus.

Scary Mummy Brie

For Scary Spice, I served up a Scary Mummy Brie. You might also like to serve: Any ‘scary’ Halloween-inspired recipe – severed finger cocktail sausages, candied poisoned apples, chocolate mice.

Scary Mummy Brie

Ingredients: Wheel of brie cheese, one sheet of defrosted puff pastry (Pampas), two almonds

Method: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cut the puff pastry into thin strips and wrap it around the brie, leaving slight gaps here and there so that it resembles an Egyptian mummy head. Place the wrapped brie into the oven on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake until the inside of the brie is gooey – normally no more than twenty minutes.

Take the brie out, and poke the almonds, pointy end first, into where ‘eyes’ should be located. Serve with crackers on the side.

Posh Cucumber Sandwiches

You can’t get much posher than Cucumber Sandwiches, fit for a high tea or even for Posh Spice herself. You might also like to serve: any variety of hors d’oeuvres (e.g. salmon, dill and cream cheese vol au vents), prawn cocktails or a bottle of bubbly.

Cucumber Sandwiches

Ingredients: The softest white bread, proper spreadable butter, cucumber, salt, white pepper

Method: Peel the cucumber and slice it very thinly, placing the slices into a colander. Sprinkle salt lightly on the cucumber and leave it for 45 minutes, to encourage it to drain. After 45 minutes, pat each slice dry with a paper towel. Spread the bread with butter, making sure you don’t get finger or knife marks into the bread.

Layer the cucumber onto the bread, and sprinkle a dash of white pepper on top. Make your sandwich, then cut off the crusts, and then cut the sandwich into fingers (or triangles). Serve either upright on a tiered platter a la high tea, or stack them however you wish onto a plate.

Sporty Protein Balls

Sporty Spice herself would be proud of these Sporty Protein Balls – or more accurately, let’s just call them Sporty Energy Balls as they’re not THAT full of protein. You might also like to serve: green smoothie shots, healthy fruit kebabs, banana protein muffins.

Sporty Protein Balls

Ingredients: Oats, raisins, sesame seeds, peanut butter, honey (I made up quantities as I went along – sorry!)

Method: Mix a cup of rolled oats with a quarter cup of raisins and a generous handful of sesame seeds. Add about two tablespoons of honey and two tablespoons of peanut butter, and mix it all up. If not all the oats have combined into the mixture, add in more peanut butter and keep mixing. Keep adding peanut butter or honey until everything combines into a fairly solid ball.

Take a small tablespoon of the dough, and roll it in your hands until it forms a smooth ball. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours, or ideally overnight for maximum structural integrity.

Ginger and Lime Cordial

I’ve never forgiven Geri Halliwell for leaving the group and triggering the break-up of the group. Still, despite my unforgiving nature, I can’t leave out Ginger Spice and so I pay tribute to her with this easy Ginger and Lime Cordial. You may also like to serve: ginger kisses, apple and ginger slice, steamed oysters with soy, ginger and shallots.

Ginger and Lime Cordial

Ingredients: Buderim ginger refresher cordial, soda water, two limes

Method: Mix one part Buderim ginger refresher cordial with four parts soda water. Wash then slice up two limes to add to the mix. Chill in the fridge, then serve either in a punch bowl or a jug. Hint – have a bottle of vodka nearby for those who want to spike their cups with a bit of something, but leave the main cordial mix alcohol-free.

‘Spice Girl’ Cookies

Don’t forget to put the proverbial cherry on top by baking some ‘Spice Girl’ cookies for everyone to decorate as they like! Make sure you have plenty of cookie decorating supplies (icing etc) in different colours for people’s creativity to run wild. I made some slight modifications to this recipe on Taste.com.au to make these cookies – e.g. using more cinnamon and nutmeg, slightly less sugar and more golden syrup, etc.

Go forth, nostalgic readers, and Spice Up Your Life.