Making kokkinisto (Greek beef stew) in a pressure cooker

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See the Greek version of this postKokkinisto literally means ‘reddened‘ in Greek. It’s basically a stew which you can make with all sorts of meat – even though each cut and animal have their littler secrets. It’s a bit different than your normal stew – it comes up with a spicy and cinnamon-y taste. Come to think of it that’s very common in my kitchen.

Anyway. Kokkinisto was the first recipe I really wanted to learn and it took quite a while. I’ve had to get rid of whole pots crying (even though it was better than what I had to deal with when I was learning to bake a cake).

So. Your fundamental issue with pot beef is that it goes blooming hard when you boil it. Old cooks tend to not divulge their secrets – which is kinda annoying. I’ll just note down any ones I know.

The interesting bit with kokkinisto is that the sauce is not cooked separately. So you get those wonderful beef juices all in one go (plus there’s less washing up to do)

This recipe is for a pressure cooker – even though you can use a normal pot, but it will take a lot longer. Also, by using a pressure cooker you’re cheating a bit since the pressure really makes a diference in making the meat soft. Plus with a pressure cooker you just throw everything in and you’re done.

I noticed that a lot of my friends in London don’t use a pressure cooker but in Greek kitchens it’s extremely common. I suspect it has to do with the Greek recipes – we do a lot of pot stuff. A lot.

Please pay MAXIMUM ATTENTION to your pressure cooker manufacturer’s instructions. Do not mess around with this.

The recipe has many many different version – this is my favorite, they one I make the most.


  • 500 grams beef stew (go for the type with white veins. If it’s lean it will taste like a shoe)
  • Tomato sauce (just mashed up tomatoes or canned – one can –  whatever you prefer)
  • 1 big onion (always add more than you think. Onions give amazing taste to pot recipes)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Tiny bit of sugar


  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 glass of red wine (preferably sweet, with some hints of cinnamon)
  • Chilly (a bit)
  • Cinnamon stick (this is my preferred option along with the wine)
  • 2 bay leaves

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Pour some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) in your pressure cooker and just heat it up gently.

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Cut the beef in small chunks. The smaller the chunks the softer they will be. Even though you don’t want them cube sized as they will be completely destroyed in the pressure cooker.

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Put the meat in the olive oil over medium heat and stir.

Some people do this with the onion for the taste of it but I tend not too. You’ll see why in a bit.

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When the meat has been well braised we can move on. This is the bit where you will add wine if you are using it. You are looking for the nice steam to escape – it can be quite spectacular and makes you look oh so chef-y. 😉

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Pour a bit of water in – enough to cover the meat. Raise the heat to the maximum.

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This horrible foam will rise up.

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TAKE OUT the foam. If you leave it in there it destroys the texture of the sauce. Take a nice big sauce spoon and just take the foam from the top.

Now, if the onions were in there they would also float to the top and you would fish them out. This is why I add them later.

You are also taking out a lot of lovely olive oil. That’s fine, you can add a bit later.

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Put a can of tomato in. If you just use normal tomato the end result will be more orangey than red (ah… they joy of preservatives)

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Add your spices but NOT cinnamon or bay leaves if you are using them.

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Add a little bit of sugar – especially if you are using fresh tomatoes. Without the sugar your tomato goes a bit bitter.

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A big onion and some garlic. If you want the onion to be visible after you’ve cooked it chop it in big chunks since otherwise it will disappear. I like it completely invisible so I put it through a food processor. I like the sauce to be smooth so I just put them through a food processor.

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Make sure you didn’t forget anything and just close your pressure cooker.

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After about 20 minutes open the pressure cooker (please follow your model’s instructions to do this) and put the pot in maximum heat. This will enable the extra water to disappear quickly and you will be left with the wonderful sauce in there. Stir often – you don’t want it stuck to the bottom.

This is the bit where your sauce becomes lovely really. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes so this is the bit where you add a bit more olive oil (let’s say 2 tablespoons at least). Also at this point add the cinnamon stick or the bay leaves.

Κοκκινιστό της θείας Σοφίας

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Serve with rice cooked with a bit of tumeric or saffron. It also goes great with mashed potatoes. Greeks also love this over pasta but I just think the pasta takes the attention away from the lovely kokkinisto.

Hope you’l enjoy it.


15 thoughts on “Making kokkinisto (Greek beef stew) in a pressure cooker

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