Posted by: lornasass | December 26, 2009


Here’s the meat-and-potatoes dish to make when you feel like getting on with it–no time lingering over browning the meat and no extra step for cooking the potatoes.

This no-frills approach is all thanks to the ingenuity of cowboy cooks who never wasted a thing: When leftover morning coffee found its way into the dinner stew, they discovered that it deepened the flavors remarkably well.

Northern Italian Cooks use a similar approach by adding espresso to a beef stew called Stacotto al caffe.  In American this coffee-laced dish is often called Chuckwagon Beef Stew.

In this recipe, the potatoes are cooked along with the beef right from the start. It’s no problem if they get a bit overcooked since they are to be mashed coarsely with some sharp cheddar and crisp bacon bits. Serve them in a mound in the middle of the stew.

Serves 4

20 minutes high pressure plus 15 minutes natural pressure release

3 strips bacon, chopped

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion

1 cup strong black coffee or beef broth

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chunk, cut into 1-inch cubes, well trimmed

2 large bay leaves

3 pounds Idaho potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, then halved

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar or Monterey pepper jack cheese, or more to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Set the bacon in cooker and set the heat to medium high. Fry until quite crisp, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, and lowering the heat to medium, if needed, to prevent the bacon from burning, about 4 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl and pour off the thin film of fat.

Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add coffee and stir well, taking care to scrape up any browned bits that are sticking to the bottom of the cooker.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, beef, and bay leaves. Stack the potatoes on top of the beef (Some will end up in the liquid and become extremely soft and flavorful.)

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat to maintain high pressure and cook 20 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away form you to allow excess steam to escape.

With a slotted spoon, lift the potatoes out of the cooker and set them in a large bowl. Taste the beef and, if not sufficiently tender, return to high pressure for 5 minutes more. Again, let the pressure come down naturally.

Use a potato ricer or fork to mash the potatoes coarsely, mixing in the cheese and reserved, crisp bacon as you go. Season the potatoes with salt and lots of pepper. Reheat the potatoes in the microwave, if necessary.

Remove the bay leaves from the stew and season to taste. Ladle the stew into large, shallow bowls. Set a large mound of smashed potatoes in the middle. Garnish with parsley, if you wish.

Copyright © 2009 Lorna Sass



  1. Wow, this recipe looks so great. Thanks for sharing.

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