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Updated 10/21/2018 

Let’s talk about something fun… like FOOD, a favorite topic. And chicken, one of my favorite foods.

Up until a couple of years ago, we raised and processed our own so we usually had a freezer full of whole birds. It is hugely satisfying to eat what you’ve raised, be it lettuce, squash or bird. We raised our GMO-free Freedom Rangers on organic feed in movable tractors like Joel Salatin teaches. Delicious, wholesome, nutrient-dense food.

Since we are surrounded by wonderful farmers who are raising/growing real food for a living, we buy from them now. Last week I bought ten 5 pounders for $4/lb (which is MUCH less than it costs us to raise our own!!!)

Yeah, that sounds expensive at first but wait till you know what that grocery store chicken has in it… Worth. Every. Penny.

Despite Tyson’s eloquent denial, there’s no way in heck I’m taking a chance on eating a chicken sent to China for processing, then shipped back to the states. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Definitely not going into that precious grandbaby.

Around here, the trouble comes when it’s dinner time, everyone is STARVED and I haven’t planned ahead (because, well, I rarely never do). Before the Instant Pot, we’d stand around the kitchen island eating organic chips with slices of habañero cheese and salami. And olives, if there are any. Drinking kombucha (me) and beer (Hal and the boys). Not bad, tres casual, but not really “supper.”

Well, NOT ANY MORE!!! We have real meals now: chicken, pot roast, soup from scratch, squash. ALL LAST MINUTE. When I say I love my Instant Pot, I am not kidding.

I’m not alone, either: it’s got over five thousand reviews, 1000 answered questions and 4.5 stars on Amazon! People love this thing. You will, too. Click here to get your own instant pot! I use mine all the time.

How to Make Frozen Chicken Stew

After you’ve got the IP unpacked, washed, rubber seal installed, condensation collector popped on, just set it on the counter and plug it in.

Put the trivet in there (comes with the machines), put your frozen chicken on it, add 1.5 cups water or broth, put on the lid. The lid makes a cute little tinkling noise when you lock it in place.

Make sure the steam release knob on the back is turned toward the back of the IP. When it’s turned away, the IP holds in the pressure. When it’s turned in, it releases pressure.

Press “Poultry” on the front. You’ll see “30” on the front panel — this denotes cooking time and 30 minutes is the default. Also, a light goes on under High Pressure (HP).

Push the plus button till the timer goes from 30 to 45 minutes. Ten seconds after the last button is pushed, the timer will read “On” while the pressure builds.

Getting the pressure up takes 10 minutes in our neck of the woods. Some steam will escape the float valve as the pressure builds. Then the float valve rises up to block the hatch and you’ll see no more steam. The lid will also lock in place, you’ll hear a click.

If you see steam escaping anywhere else — around the lid or via the steam release valve, then you have a leak. Either the rubber gasket is not well seated, the steam release is not closed or the anti-block shield is dirty or not seated. Press “Cancel” (lower right of panel), fix the leak and start again. Just takes a sec. Ask me how I know.

Once the pressure is up and the lid is truly locked (you can’t get the lid off until the pressure is released and the float valve drops), the timer shows 45 minutes and starts counting down.

When it gets to zero, the timer beeps and shows L0:00 (L for Low and 0:00 for hours:minutes). Then it starts counting up so you know how many minutes it’s been since the cooking stopped. Very handy!

I do Quick Release (QR in IP jargon) for the Instant Pot Frozen Chicken Stew. You can do Natural Release (NR), meaning you let the pressure subside on its own, takes about 15 minutes for this. Just remember that adds cooking time to the meal so you have to adjust.

To QR, reach around and, from underneath, flip the steam release valve toward you. The steam bursts out of there so make sure your face and hands are not hovered over the it! I do this on my stove top so the steam goes out the exhaust rather than onto my ceiling or cabinets. It takes 2 minutes to release the steam at which point the float valve drops.

OK, open the lid.

Stick a fork in the bird and see if there’s any blood (there shouldn’t be). Then see if a leg or wing pulls off easily which means it’s cooked. This one is not q-u-i-t-e done… the leg is still attached and lifting the bird.

If your bird needs more time, put the lid on and do 10 more minutes. Oh, don’t forget to push the pressure release valve back to closed or the pressure will escape and the bird won’t get cooked… Yeah, ask me how I know to remind you 🙂

If the bird HAS fallen apart, then 45 minutes was too long. Altitude makes a difference, weight of bird makes a difference. Depending on your elevation, your cooking time might be more or less.

Once the bird is done, add cut up veggies and spices. We like potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, celery and Rosemary — my favorite spice with chicken. I toss them in and do five minutes more on HP.

The IP will cook the life right out of your veggies! Eight minutes is too much around here… five seems to be right.

Once the veggies are done, remove the chicken and remove the skin (just because it’s like “boiled chicken” skin and not that appealing or flavorful… I just remove the major pieces. Be sure to save ALL that skin for the broth making below).

Then put everything in a big bowl and serve. I usually add salt and pepper and lots of butter for the veggies. Deeeeelicious! If the veggies aren’t overcooked, it’s also really pretty. Sorry, no picture of this beautiful stew. Like I say, they were starved… I turned my back for a minute and everybody dug in. Next time, I’ll be ready with the camera!

OH! Don’t wash the pot yet. We have Instant Pot Chicken Broth plans.

After the meal, if there’s any chicken left, pick that off and save the meat for another meal or soup. Put the bones, skin, any leftover veggies and anything else you have (older unattractive but still edible veggies, extra chicken feet, etc.) into the pot with a T. of vinegar. Fill the pot with water — this holds a gallon — and let sit for 30 minutes so the vinegar can do it’s magic, leeching the minerals out of the bones.

NOTE: I do not add “still great” veggies or spices, not even salt, to my broth making and I only use distilled water. The “still good” veggies will go in the soup. I just put the older veggies in the broth-making to get out any flavor and minerals that might still remain. And no salt because, as you cook the broth, any salt will “magnify” and by the time you’ve got soup, the broth can be pretty salty. So I only salt the bowl of food I’m going to eat.

Next, put on the lid, keep the steam release valve turned toward you (you’re not going HP this time) and push “Slow Cook” on the front. The default time for slow cooking is four hours. Push the plus till it hits 20 hours (the max). The next day depending on what’s going on, I’ll either strain the broth into two 1/2 gallon Ball jars or maybe cook another 20 hours, then strain and put in fridge. (We use broth pretty quickly around here so I rarely freeze.)

I feed the mushy bones to the dogs — they are Great Pyrenees and never a fear about brittle bones. The bones are VERY soft after all this cooking and these dogs eat ANYTHING. Big treat for them!

I love cooking this way: delicious + nothing goes to waste and a quick clean up. Try it and let me know what you think!

Click here to pin! Thank you!!!

P.S. Is Pressure Cooking Healthy? Here’s the answer I’m going with (YES)!

UPDATE: Perpetual Soup

At Kathy’s party, I mentioned that we always have soup on the stove and a couple of people asked about it. Here’s what I do:

I put 1/2 gallon broth in my ceramic pot, add chicken, chopped celery (always celery with chicken!), fresh garlic (cloves or minced), some spices* (never salt — I salt the bowl of soup I’m eating), 1/2 cup quinoa (a little goes a long way with quinoa), then whatever else I have that looks good: mushrooms (whole or cut up), carrots, a little potato… really whatever you like.

Fresh spinach is heavenly in a bowl of soup, but again, just in the bowl. Don’t put in the pot because it gets slimy and unappealing, even to me who loves spinach in every form!!!

Fill the pot with distilled water, cover and cook till quinoa is done, about 20 minutes. Soup’s on — enjoy!

I refrigerate every night, usually in the pot (I place a heavy ceramic dish under the pot in the fridge if the pot is still warm.) As the soup gets eaten, I add more broth + distilled water, about half and half, depending on how thick the soup has gotten. Then add more of whatever veggies/spices we feel like. This “refill” process continues until I’m out of chicken and/or broth and need more! Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes a week, totally depending on who’s home.

Then I start over with a new frozen chicken 🙂 Like I said above, we buy 10 at a time from our farmer!

*We love spicy but the baby does not so we are frugal with it. Sometimes a little cumin which is as spicy as we go right now. But we have been known to throw a whole jalapeño in the broth pot! Rosemary is ALWAYS good with chicken, just like celery… here’s our Family Mirepoix which pretty much goes in everything 

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