Not a fan of frozen food

By now, probably everyone knows of my love of the Instant Pot. However, I know of one thing I HATE in the Instant Pot – frozen food. About the only frozen food I will eat regularly are things like cheesesticks or french fries, some pizzas and some vegetables. (Though I have been known to freeze a dessert or two to save for later.)

Most meats I hate frozen – whether it’s in a microwavable meal or just meat I’ve bought at the grocery store and then frozen. So it was with a lot of trepidation that I faced “Cooking from Frozen in Your Instant Pot” by Kristy Bernardo. I thought maybe my love of the Instant Pot might be greater than my hate of frozen.

It really wasn’t. The fact that it was cooked in an Instant Pot made it a bit better, but the experience was not exactly pleasant. And as I have read several posts on Instant Pot-related social media pages, most people have trouble cooking with frozen.

When I got the book, I found several recipes I wanted to try for the week, went to the grocery store, and bought the meat and immediately stuck it in the freezer. But when I went to try my very first recipe, I discovered that just jamming meat into the freezer bags is never a good idea. The meat I had chosen — a pork tenderloin, chuck roast and even chicken — when it froze, froze into shapes that did NOT fit the Instant Pot. The chicken froze into a long line of attached frozen chicken that wouldn’t allow the lid on, and really the same with the pork tenderloin and the roast. I had to thaw them to cut them up into shapes that would actually fit in the pot. (And to be fair, that’s the very thing Bernardo warns about in the introduction of her book!) So, learn from my pain, and cut meat into sizable chunks and put them in separate bags after that.

Also, timing is a problem with frozen food in the Instant Pot. Anyone who has used an Instant Pot knows it takes additional time for the pot to get up to pressure before you get to the cooking time — something that takes everyone some time to get used to. Bernardo mentioned that it may take extra time with frozen meat for it to get to pressure, which I really didn’t notice, but where I had trouble was the cook time. No matter what the cook time said in the recipes, I found that when I opened the pot and checked the temperature, they all still needed more cook time to get into the food safety zone. Which meant bringing the whole thing back up to pressure and starting again, which gets annoying quickly. The first day, I figured I did something wrong, (other than freezing in terrible shapes!) the second day, I figured this is the cost of cooking from frozen and the third day, I just added on at least 10 minutes to whatever the recipe’s cook time said.

So now we get to taste. I think everyone liked everything we tried, it tasted pretty good, but at that point, I just wished I had cooked it with refrigerated meat instead of frozen.

I have read several posts on social media that people enjoy cooking from frozen for convenience and for the price — buy the meat when it’s on sale and store it. It’s just not worth it for me, I’d rather buy the meat the week I’m making it, and I understand that I’m weird and a little squeamish about meat.

So, for those of you who don’t have weird reservations about frozen meat, this would be a good book for you to try with your Instant Pot.

There are six chapters in the book: Chicken Dinners in a Flash, Lighting Fast Beef and Pork Entrees, Effortless Seafood Feasts, Hearty Soups and Salads, Simple No-Sweat Sandwiches and Quick and Delectable Side Dishes.

Chicken dishes include Cajun Chicken Alfredo, which I made, Whole “Rotisserie” Chicken and more.

Beef and pork entrees offer Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Sauce, which I tried, Rib-Eye Steaks with Red-Wine Pan Sauce and Maple-Mustard Pork Ribs.

Seafood dishes include Easy Shrimp and Sausage Boil and Pesto Salmon.

Soups and Salads include Sausage Pepper Soup with Cauliflower Rice, Steak Salad with Roasted Jalapenos and Creamy Poblano Dressing and Cheesy Meatball Soup.

Sandwiches include BBQ Beef Sandwiches with Crunchy Slaw, which I tried, Chipotle Turkey Clubs and Lemon-Pepper Chicken-Salad Sandwiches.

Side Dishes offer Creamed Corn with Bacon Breadcrumbs, Curried Rice and Veggies and Mushy Peas with Fresh Mint.

“Cooking from Frozen in Your Instant Pot” is published by Page Street Publishing. It is $21.99.

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Contact Amy Phelps at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com

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