Pressure cookers, especially electric ones, are fast and efficient and there is almost nothing that they cannot do. Pressure cookers are great for those days when you do not have a lot of time to spare as it prepares food faster than any other traditional cooking method. Today’s pressure cookers are also safe to use so if you are worried about any dangers, you will be happy to know that pressure cookers now come with a whole host of features designed to enhance your safety. Pressure cookers can prepare anything from whole birds/poultry to desserts and even frozen meat.
Pressure cooking frozen meat
So, you want to prepare a frozen chunk of meat in your pressure cooker? First things first, you should know that it is entirely possible to pressure cook frozen meats. However, there are certain things that you have to keep in mind not only to ensure that you end up with successful results but to also make sure that you are safe throughout. When purchasing frozen meat to use in your pressure cooker, ask the butcher to cut your meat into small chunks before defrosting.
Most pressure cookers are capable of turning unappealing frozen steaks, birds, filets, and roasts into moist, delicious and tender pieces of meat. To prepare thick pieces of frozen meat such as beef or pork roasts in your pressure cooker, you should remain aware that it will take you more than the normal cooking time for the frozen meat to cook fully, and if you do it incorrectly, the results will not taste or look very good.
Most meats such as poultry tend to lose their flavor and color when they are cooked directly in frozen form. Defrosting frozen meats in a pressure cooker also leads to the loss of valuable nutrients and minerals. Meats that are placed completely frozen in a pressure cooker also cook faster on the outside than they do on the inside, which will leave you with uneven results.
For instance, if you throw a huge chunk of frozen meat into the pressure cooker, you will likely end up with an unappetizing slab of meat that will have to be broken down later on in the process to get a ground texture. Furthermore, if you prepared the block with other ingredients, then expect everything to mash up together owing to the extended cooking time.
As such, to avoid all this from happening, it is recommended that you thaw your meat, at least partially in order to not only reduce the cooking time but also to preserve vital minerals and vitamins.
Defrosting your frozen meat by pre-thawing it
Frozen veggies can easily be placed in a pressure cooker without thawing but you should generally avoid cooking frozen meat without at least pre-thawing it. Thawing your meat correctly will reduce the cooking time while ensuring that the meats cook more evenly.
To defrost your meat, take it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw out on a plate. If you are working with a huge piece of meat, you might need to take it out of the freezer early enough depending on its thickness. Whatever you do, do not defrost your frozen meat using hot or warm water as it could cause food poisoning if you do. If you defrost your meat correctly but do not get around to preparing it, you can re-freeze it once more just as long as it was not left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours or defrosted in hot water.
Defrosting frozen meat with a pressure cooker
If you purchased your frozen meat and had it prepared into smaller chunks, then it is entirely possible to defrost it directly in the pressure cooker without undergoing the pre-thawing process. Do not attempt to defrost large chunks as it will cause problems mentioned above like unevenly cooked meat. If you try to quickly thaw a massive chunk of meat, the exterior will look tenderized but the inside will retain its rock-hard core and icy texture. If the inside of the meat refuses to thaw completely, you could possibly be serving bacteria filled food because the meat will not be sterilized properly by the high temperature when it refuses to thaw.
To defrost smaller chunks of meat in a pressure cooker, the meat will need to be completely submerged in water or some liquid of some sort such as a stock. When preparing the meat, remember to continuously check on it using a cooking thermometer to ensure that it cooks through fully. Submerging the meat in the water fully will allow the heat from the liquid to penetrate the frozen meat more easily which will leave you with even results.
Handy tips for pressure cooking frozen meats
The smaller the chunks the better
If you are using individual cuts of frozen meat that are 1 inch thick or smaller, you will not need to adjust your cooking time. If you are working with larger cuts, the best way to handle them is to thaw, partially thaw or brown them before cooking to prevent yourself from having to increase the cooking time.
Thinner cuts work better
Thinner cuts of meat perform better in pressure cookers than large frozen ones. Thin chicken thighs, thin pork chops or skirt or flank steak and small fish fillets are excellent candidates for pressure cooking. Larger cuts of meat such as whole chicken or pot roast will not deliver great results when pressure cooked.
Try not to steam or braise your frozen meat
When cooking frozen meat in a pressure cooker, avoid steaming of braising it. Steaming frozen meat will leave you with a lovely cooked exterior and a frozen solid core while braising it will only cook the part of the meat that has been submerged in the cooking liquid while the rest will remain relatively undone.
Increase cooking time based on the thickness
When pressure cooking frozen meats, remember to increase your cooking times based on the thickness of the meat. For example, ground beef typically takes about 5 minutes of pressure cooking time. However, if the ground beef is in frozen form with at least 1 inch of thickness, then you will want to double your cooking times by 10 minutes. For frozen pork and beef, you should add at least 5 minutes of cooking time for every inch of thickness.