In today’s post, we celebrate our wonderful country and a cozy beef stew to keep us warm on cold days.
Since the start of our food blog, we’ve built up a bit of an Azores (Portuguese) culinary niche. This is because both Liz and I have Portuguese roots, and I lived in the Azores from the ages of 12 to 20. I’m lucky to have a mom who knows how to cook well. I enjoyed lots of my mom’s delicious cooking. I’ve been recreating many of those recipes here on our website.
Portugal has a special place in my heart, but I was born in Canada. I left for a bit and later returned to Canada to start my adult life. I’ve now been here for 27 years, I married a wonderful woman (brownie points Liz?), I become a dad to two amazing boys, built up my career, I’ve enjoyed countless wonderful moments and created beautiful memories. I feel so lucky to live in such a great country and to be raising a family here. Sure it has a few flaws, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t get better than this!
150th anniversary of Confederation
This year, Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary of Confederation. We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for! What stands out for me, personally, are some of the people who have helped shape this wonderful country.
- Through dedication, pain and commitment, Terry Fox raised the bar when it comes to raising awareness for cancer research. His message was so powerful that millions of people, in almost 25 countries run and fundraise at Terry Fox events every year. As of 2016, over $715 million had been raised in his name.
- Gord Downie used his rock star status to raise awareness for the environment, youth learning, Indigenous affairs, cancer awareness and so much more. Along with his band The Tragically Hip and so many other supporters, Gord tackled these issues while he himself battled cancer, and eventually lost his battle. In August of 2016, I was fortunate enough to watch the live stream of the Hip’s last concert which was broadcast nation wide to millions of people. We were on vacation and watched the live outdoor broadcast from Halifax, Nova Scotia, with thousands of people. It was wonderful for my kids to experience so much strength, courage and love that evening. I’m getting goose bumps just writing about it!
- Wayne Gretzky, has had a huge impact on sports in Canada as a player and role-model. I’m not even a sports fan and barely follow hockey, but one name that stood out for me since I was a child, was Gretzky, #99. He went on to be known as the “Great One”, all this while approaching the sport with so much class and grace.
- David Suzuki has made it his life’s mission to remind us all that we need to take care of our planet. Try Googling “Canadian environmental activist”… you’ll find him on the first page! At the age 81, he still fights for this cause with more energy than most people a quarter of his age.
There’s so much more that can be said about the beautiful landscapes and people of Canada. I encourage you to click some of the links listed above or visit EduCanada or the Government of Canada for additional facts about this great country.
Comfort Food and Canadiana
Canada is known for it’s diversity. This means we’re incredibly lucky when it comes to food choices. You can eat pretty much any food from any country without leaving Canada. I’ve even managed to get my clan of picky eaters out to some restaurants that are outside of their culinary comfort zone.
Since we want to celebrate Canada’s birth year, for today’s recipe, I wanted to incorporate ingredients that remind me of Canada. …and what better meal than one that’ll keep you warm during cold Canadian winters? 🙂
Some of the key locally sourced ingredients included in this meal are:
- Growth hormone and antibiotic-free Canadian raised beef from our friends at P&F Meats
- Maple smoked bacon
- Locally grown and sourced Peas, carrots and potatoes from 19th Avenue Farmer’s Market,
- Red wine from Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery in Ontario’s Niagara Region.
- Canadian craft stout beer from Broadhead Brewing Company from Ottawa Ontario.
Truly Canadian, eh?
These ingredients can all be substituted with ingredients that are local to you, wherever you’re reading this. We chose to give the recipe some real Canadian flare.
Visit and Explore
If you live in Canada, make sure to explore this fine country. We’ve only seen a bit of central and Eastern Canada and we’re pretty excited to visit Western Canada sometime in the near future. If you’ve never been to Canada, make sure to add it to your travel list. You’ll see plenty of beautiful places and meet many super friendly people. Be ready to hear “sorry”, “excuse me” and “thank you”, a lot! 🙂
Now get out there and explore Canada! Celebrate Canada’s 150th with a great Canadian meal, and eat well, friends!
The rich and delicious Instant Pot beef stew is made with popular Canadian ingredients. Celebrate Canada's 150th birth year with this iconic comfort food.
- 5 thick slices maple smoked bacon, cut in large pieces
- 3 lbs top sirloin, cut in large cubes
- 2 tsp course sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small cooking onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 medium new white potatoes, peeled, washed and cubed
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3/4 cups red wine (we used Wayne Gretzky's Cabernet Merlot)
- 1 cup stout beer (we used Broadhead Brewing Company's stout)
- 3/4 cups beef broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp course sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh green peas
Heat the Instant Pot on the Sauté setting.
In a large bowl, place the meat, 2 tsp sale, 1 tsp black pepper and the flour. Toss or mix until the meat is well coated. Set aside.
Once the Instant Pot is ready, add the bacon and sear until the edges look crisp. Set the bacon aside.
Place a few pieces of the beef (side by side) over the oil from the bacon in the Instant Pot and sear until the meat starts to brown. Make sure to do this in small batches to avoid over-crowding. None of the pieces should overlap.
Set the seared meat aside. The bacon oil may have dried a bit by now, so add a bit of the vegetable oil to the bottom of the pot. Sear the next batch until the meat is all seared and set aside.
Add the onions and garlic to the bottom of the pot. Sauté for about two minutes (add a little extra veg. oil if necessary).
Add the red wine. This will help deglaze the bottom of the pot. Using a wooden or plastic spoon, scrape the meat bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Add the beef and bacon back into the pot.
Add the potatoes, carrots, tomato paste, beer, broth and bay leaves.
Sprinkle the paprika and remaining salt and pepper over top.
Give the mix a good stir and close the lid.
Close the steam valve and press the Meat/Stew button. At this point, the Instant Pot will take roughly 10 minutes to build pressure and then cook 35 minutes.
Once the Instant Pot beeps, use the quick pressure release to let out the steam in about one minute. You're welcome to release the pressure naturally, but I find that for this stew, the potatoes become softer than I'd like them to be. The quick release was perfect. You'll know the lid is ready to open when the float valve drops.
Open the lid, add the green peas and stir.
Let the stew rest for about 10 minutes and serve. Enjoy!
- I recommend doing all the cut-ups before starting the searing. Heat the Instant Pot on the sauté setting while you prep the meat and vegetables.