Oxtail Stew by Instant Pot: One Thing at which it Excels

I make this dish , Oxtail Stew by Instant Pot, all the time in fall/winter either with Hay Creek meaty soup bones (neck bones) or actual oxtail segments. Both turn out great but the oxtail definitely has the more intense beef flavor. Thing is, you have to remember to begin very early morning if you hope to eat anywhere near normal lunchtime with the extensive stove-top stewing time required. How would Instant Pot perform with this long- cooking stew? Seemed -at last – an ideal task for Instant Pot (IP) ’cause lots of moisture already comes along with the recipe ingredients and needs no reduction/thickening after cooking. Yeah, IP and I have a “history”. Turns out Instant Pot excels @ stew.

Last made this on a busy cattle-working day the first of November with help arriving at 9 am and minimal time after that to spare for meal prep.

Seared (browned) the oxtail segments in a 12 inch saute pan, ignoring Instant Pot’s “one pot” capabilities. Yeah, it’s possible but a pain in the ___ to turn beef pieces in a deep-walled pot using tongs. Don’t mess with it!

Added the browned oxtail, 3 cups water, and the sauteed onions to Instant Pot along with peppercorns and bay leaf. Set for 60 minute “pressure cook” at 7:30 am and went on to prepare the ingredients to be added later so I could simply come inside , pop them in and reset cook time.

These were a couple cups of course-chopped red cabbage, a couple cups chunked carrots, a cup of chopped celery, 2 cups stewed or crushed tomato, 1/3 cup barley, a tablespoon dried parsley, and a teaspoon each dried marjoram, basil, thyme and sage.

Got back inside at 10:30 am. The pressure cook cycle was complete, IP had shifted to “warm” mode and the pressure indicator (plug) was down so simply removed the lid, added the prepared ingredients, replaced lid and set for 10 minutes “pressure cook”. Back in for lunch break at 1 pm and all was ready, warm and smelled great on removing cover! The ability to complete a timed pressure cook, shift modes and hold warm automatically is the real beauty of Instant Pot.

Beware however of the potential failure of the pop-up plug to seal – which allows venting of ALL the internal moisture w/o triggering the “pressure cook” cycle time. The plug is vulnerable to getting “stuck”. I’ve had this occur and been surprised by the IP chugging away on full heat with all the steam venting out the stuck plug. It’s best to be around to check/nurse that part until sealing is confirmed or you could re-enter a smoke-filled house with your meal burnt-up.

UPDATE April 12, 2021: Tested a variation with goal of achieving cleaner flavor and not-so-mushy texture in final stage of cooking after vegetable addition. Removed the IP vessel from the cooker after the 1 hour pressure cycle complete and placed on stovetop. Made all vegetable and herb additions as above with exception of barley for which I substituted quartered, unpeeled red potatoes totaling 3/4 pound. Heated on stovetop to just boiling, and reduced to simmer (covered) for 20 minutes. Perfect vegetable texture and delightful, clean flavor. Benefits from salt at point of serving.