In the original version of this recipe, it needed to simmer on the stovetop for 45 minutes. Instead of tending to the stovetop, you put this on in the morning and go about your day. When you get home, you have a delicious tender beef stew waiting for you. The beef becomes spoon-tender. Yes, I said spoon-tender, not fork-tender.
There are some very Cretan characteristics to this dish that I love. First of all, it’s a one-pot meal which is very typical of Cretan food. Extra virgin olive oil, onions, tomatoes, and herbs are the beginning to so many traditional Cretan one-pot meals. Second, it’s the specific herbs in this recipe that give it a very Cretan taste. If you have ever been hiking in the mountains in Crete, the gentle mountain breeze brings you scents of thyme and sage mixed with the scent of wildflowers. Along the sides of the path, you can find bush after bush of sage and thyme. I would always stop and just rub a little on my fingers to smell. Because these herbs grow so abundantly in the Cretan mountains, they are dried and used in a plethora of traditional recipes.
Here are the original and Instant Pot versions of this recipe: