It happens to the best of us: You're planning on making stew for dinner, but you forgot to take the meat out of the freezer on time. Now, you're left with a bag of frozen protein and a question of how to proceed. Can dinner be saved? Don't start ordering pizza just yet — in most cases, you can still get a delectable stew on the table, even if you're starting with frozen meat.
Unlike other cooking methods that are less forgiving, stewing applies heat to the meat over a long period of time, allowing it to come to temperature as it simmers. Frozen meat takes about 1½ times as long to cook properly as the same meat thawed, so increasing the amount of time your stew simmers is the traditional way to ensure the meat will be thoroughly done by the time it's ready for the table.
If you're short on time and you have an Instant Pot, use it instead to pressure cook the ingredients in a flash. Pressure cooking brings the meat up to temperature, tenderizes it, and leaves it as deliciously flavorful as if you'd stewed it all day.
Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay
For Best Results, Use An Instant Pot
While it's certainly possible to cook a stew with frozen meat on your stovetop using the timing guidelines above, an Instant Pot can help get the meal ready faster when using ingredients straight from the freezer. Pressure cooking the meat ensures it'll end up tender and reduces the possibility of overcooking it and causing toughness or stringiness.
When cooking a dish such as Instant Pot beef stew, remember that in adding frozen ingredients, the Instant Pot can take longer to reach the proper pressure and seal. Just like with stovetop cooking, build in a little extra time — though, in this case, it'll take minutes rather than hours.
Another tip? Pressure cook the stew meat first, then add in chopped vegetables and pressure cook again for a shorter period (about four minutes). Otherwise, your veggies may become mush by the time your meat is ready.
Think Twice Before Using The Slow Cooker
If you're planning on making your stew in a slow cooker, you may want to think twice about starting with frozen meat. Crock pots are great ways to simmer a dish for long periods of time at low heat, but with frozen meats, the heat generated by the slow cooker doesn't always reach a temperature high enough to ensure the meat is cooked safely.
The USDA recommends avoiding putting frozen meat into the slow cooker, as it takes a long time to reach a safe temperature — causing it to spend too much time in the danger zone (40-140 degrees F) of bacteria growth. Adding frozen food to a slow cooker also lowers the temperature of everything else in the appliance, increasing the possibility that foodborne illness can propagate.
If you do want to use a slow cooker, thaw your meat first. The quickest way to defrost meat is to put it in the microwave; you can also defrost meat in cold water by wrapping it in a leak-proof bag or plastic and then submerging it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the meat fully thaws and is ready to use.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.