Pressure Cooking Frozen Meats

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Q - "Miss Vickie, how do I cook frozen meatin my pressure cooker just I've seen advertised on TV?"

    This is one of the most common questions I receive. Yes, you can cook frozen meat in the pressure cooker just like the show on TV, but the question is - why would you want to? It's not that hard, or time consuming, to defrost or at least partially thaw meats before cooking.

    Those ubiquitous TV infomercials are designed to get you in the mood to part with some cash in exchange for some sexed-up, over-priced fad item. What they don't show you on TV is that if you throw a block of frozen ground beef in the pressure cooker, you will end up with a suspicious looking, gray and tastless solid block of cooked ground beef that is swimming in a puddle of grease. Then you have to break up the in order to get a crumbled texture, and if it was cooked along with other ingredients, then everything ends up getting smashed into a sloppy mess disquised by thick flavoring sauce. Yummy... no!

If using separate, individual cuts of frozen meats that are up to 1 inch thick, the cooking time does not need to be altered. Pressure will not be achieved until the internal temperature in the pot is 40 degrees higher than the boiling point of water. So if the recipe states the meat be cooked for 10 minutes after pressure has been achieved, it will still be the same, but it will take longer to come to pressure.

I don't recommend cooking larger cuts of frozen meats such as a roast or whole chicken. Larger`cuts will require increased cooking times of up to one third more than usual, and the results may not be the same when compared to meats that were thawed (or at least partially thawed) and browned before cooking.

If you must cook meat roasts that are frozen"

  • For frozen Beef or Pork - add 5 minutes to the cooking time for each inch of thickness.

  • For a frozen chicken, add 1 minute per pound for a whole bird. For frozen Turkey breast, legs or thighs, add 4 minutes per inch of thickness.

Always use a meat thermometer to check for doneness when cooking thick cuts of meat.

The Pros and Cons of Cooking Thawed vs Frozen Meats



Thawed, or partially thawed meat can be`browned, browning imparts flavor, and sears in the juices as well

The juices in frozen meats will leak out and the meat will be less flavorful.

Browning ground beef allows the meat to be crumbled so it can be evenly distributed in casseroles and other combination dishes.

Frozen chunks of ground meat will end up as solid blocks of cooked ground meat - you will spend a lot of time trying to break it up, and if cooked with other foods it will mush everything.

Thawing and browning ground beef allows you to pour off all that unwanted grease.

Using frozen meat leaves all the fat in it, and as the cooks all that fat will be left in your food.

Browned meats enhance eye appeal by adding color, the meat looks cooked, not raw. You can brown meats in the cooker or use a separate skillet, or use a"grilling machine".

Frozen meats cooked without browning will look very unappetizing unless covered with some kind of sauce. Without browning, red meat will have a gray appearance when cooked; chicken looks blanched white.

Large pieces of frozen meat take longer to cook, and may not get thoroughly cooker through the thickest part. Always use a meat thermometer to check for doneness when cooking larger cuts of meat.

Extended cooking times destroy vitamins and minerals the body needs for good nutrition. The`results may vary when cooking large pieces of frozen meat, with the outside being over cooker and the inside not cooked enough.

Thawed meats absorb marinades, and seasonings better so you'll have a more flavorful end result.

Since the frozen parts can't absorb any flavors from cooking liquids, seasonings or herbs you end up with a very bland piece of meat that lacks taste.

Scrape up all the little browned bits before locking the lid for a richer gravy, broth or sauce. The browner the meat, the richer the broth and more flavorful the gravy.

Without browning there is no flavor to gravy or broth. The pan juices used for the gravy or sauce with by less flavorful and lacking in color.

Use a microwave to partially thaw meats very quickly. Once the outside of the meat is at least partially thawed, it can browned very quickly. Click here for more information and different methods used to thaw meat.

Recipe Using Frozen Chicken

Here's an example of how to use frozen chicken in a recipe that uses a thick, flavorful sauce to "hide" that unappealing piece of blanched white chicken and add a little taste to it.

4 frozen chicken breasts
3 cups frozen Italian style veg. (cauliflower, carrots, broccoli)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoons mixed Italian herbs
4 cups ziti or penne style pasta
1 jar pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozerella cheese
Add veggies, garlic, herbs, pasta, and the sauce to the cooker. Add enough water to barely cover the pasta. Stir well. Place chicken pieces on top. Lock the lid in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat, immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure. Cook 6 minutes. Remove from heat and use the natural release method before opening the lid. Remove the chicken and cut into bite sized pieces and return to pot. Stir the cheese into the pasta mixture and adjust seasonings to taste. Replace the lid and wait a few minutes for the cheese to melt before serving.

Find out more about cooking times in the Cooking Time Charts.





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