Every cook in the world will probably say that the worst part of the cooking process is defrosting or thawing ingredients. This painfully slow and boring act of waiting for the ice to melt off and letting the food warm naturally is something that also probably gets on your nerves.
Thus, you may be thinking of skipping the thawing process and just throwing the frozen meat right in the pressure cooker. It should be asked though, will the result of cooking thawed food and cooking frozen food be the same in terms of taste and texture? This question is something that will be discussed in this article.
What’s with the need to freeze meat in the first place?
Basically, freezing the meat or subjecting it to temperatures of around 0 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 18 degrees Celsius, is a way to preserve and elongate the taste and quality of the meat. The science behind this process is that freezing the meat inactivates the bacteria present in the meat. In other words, bacteria, yeasts and mold will be unable to spread and rot the meat under these conditions.
However, thawing and defrosting meats will then reactivate the bacteria. It is only through cooking the meat will the bacteria be permanently killed and ready to eat.
Why the need to thaw in the first place?
Now you might be wondering, if freezing helps inactivate bacteria and other contaminants, why should we even bother reactivating them during the thawing process? Plus, thawing takes quite some precious time so what gives?
Well the first reason is that thawing softens up the meat, obviously. This would make it easier for heat to penetrate all the way through the inside of the meat. In short, thawing actually helps the meat cook externally and internally.
On a related note, thawing sets the temperature of the meat evenly. Take a frozen chicken and pan fry it. It may seem cooked all the way to the bones but this is not the case. Instead, only the outer layers of the chicken are cooked while the inside is still raw. Again, this is because the heat was unable to penetrate the internal part of the meat.
Furthermore, as a result of not being thoroughly cooked, the meat will definitely taste different and poorly. Remember the Maillard reaction discussed in previous articles. Well, the Maillard reaction will fail to occur in the presence of water. Since the meat is frozen, it contains plenty of water and this will keep the reaction from happening and consequently preventing the chemical reaction and production of those complex particles that contribute to the meat’s taste and smell.
Also, pressure cooking will increase the amount of time it normally takes since the frozen nature will make it harder for the heat to cook the meat and thus elongating the process.
Tips for making thawing easier
One can somehow speed up the thawing and defrosting process faster by putting the meat inside a zip lock bag and running water through it. Another would be to take the zip lock bag and submerge it warm water. These are just some of the tips to make this agonizingly boring part of your cooking faster.
At the end of the day, it is not recommended that one directly put frozen foods into the pressure cooker.