Meal planning ahead is one way to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet, but it can quickly go awry when you forget to defrost your protein of choice. Whether it’s chicken, beef or fish, eating any of these foods before they’re completely thawed can be risky, although experts say it can be done safely if you follow a few key steps. They explained that although you may need to adjust the recipe you plan to make, last-minute defrosting is possible using a pressure cooker and a little water.
The best method for safely thawing meat is overnight in the refrigerator until completely thawed, whether fish, red meat or poultry. But when you can’t do that, you can use a pressure cooker.
Gil Boyd, chef-instructor of culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, noted that one of the easiest ways to speed up the thawing process is to cut the meat into smaller pieces.
She said, “Smaller pieces of frozen meat, about one to six ounces per piece, work best. This will ensure that the meat is cooked all the way through in a timely manner.”
If the protein is larger and more difficult to cut while completely frozen, you can place it in a bowl of cold water as long as it is wrapped in a package. Do this for a few minutes until you can easily push a sharp knife through the meat.
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Ground meats like beef, turkey, and pork can be even more difficult to thaw quickly from the freezer, although these brick-like items will perform well in a pressure cooker without pre-thawing.
However, if you don’t have a slow cooker handy, you can safely defrost the meat partially in the microwave. Do this for three to five minutes on high until tender but before the meat changes color.
The culinary expert noted that frozen ground beef can be used to make a “quick” chili or bolognese sauce, but should be avoided when it comes to homemade burgers and meatballs.
Gill noted that this is because ground meat heated from frozen will cook as it thaws and will not stick together properly.
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To do this, Gill recommends cutting them into small pieces, two to three ribs per rack, and rubbing them with seasoning before cooking them on high in the pressure cooker for about 30 minutes.
If you want to use the water content in the frozen, consider adding it to broth-based recipes like ramen. All you have to do is reduce the amounts of other liquids in the dish.
As the frozen meat cooks, the ice will melt and become water. While some of it will turn into steam, the rest will be retained in the pressure cooker.
Instead of adding the liquid before cooking, either use the water content while cooking or save the liquid for other dishes. It will be full of flavor and prevent other dishes from tasting watery.
When it comes to seafood, frozen shrimp is one of the easiest foods to cook in a pressure cooker straight from the freezer. Like anything cooked in such appliances, the dish would benefit from some fresh seasoning when served.
For other fish, the best option is to thaw them in cold water. Simply place the fish in a shallow dish filled with water in the sink and let the faucet drip a fresh stream over the top. This implies that the product is in a moisture-proof, sealed package.
As with any meat, whether it’s cooked from chilled or frozen, it’s critical to check the temperature of food you’ve cooked from frozen in a pressure cooker to make sure each cut is cooked to a safe serving temperature.
This is 75C for chicken and turkey, 71.1C degrees for ground beef and 75C for pork. You should also cook frozen meat in a pressure cooker immediately, rather than letting it thaw at room temperature for a while before starting the cooking process, as this can introduce bacteria into your food.