For me, when freezing instant pot beef stew with potatoes, the potatoes don’t fare well. After defrosting, the taste and textures are degraded. Tho I believe waxy potatoes hold up better rather than russets, they still suffer.
I’m supposing that one could simulate what you might do when using a crockpot, adding the potatoes in the last 1/2-1 hour, but is that practical with an instant pot?
How exactly would you go about it? Perhaps finish cooking the beef, remove it, then add and cook the potatoes to the remaining gravy?
Also, I just got some Knoor chicken-tomato boullion that I was thinking of adding, as well as some onion soup mix. What do you think?
Can I ask how you typically cook instant pot beef stew and what you think would be different about the approach you suggest? That is, is it your thinking that the potatoes are overcooked to start and that’s exacerbated by the freeze/thaw…?
If you know that you are going to freeze the left overs, then I would increase the mix of veg. Instead of so many potatoes, you can add something like Parsnip or pearl onions which do better frozen/reheated.
As for the two soup mixes… We use the Knorr Tomato-Chicken seasoning A LOT. It adds a wonderful richness and of course just the right hit of MSG to any dish. It has a very different flavor profile than Onion soup mix which has this toastiness to it, which some really like, but honestly I find unnecessary… If you feel like your Beef Stew needs brightness (which is a common missing note when using a pressure cooker) add a dash of worcestershire or fish sauce right when you open. Mix in and let it infuse for about 5 minutes as it cools.
“is it your thinking that the potatoes are overcooked to start and that’s exacerbated by the freeze/thaw…?”
That’s more or less my point. Maybe if it wasn’t gonna be frozen, it wouldn’t be perfect, but acceptable.
If I freeze a potato casserole, for instance, it does pretty well frozen, but I always wonder if this is what everyone experiences in a stew with potatoes…how degraded they get, why would they continue to do it that way. I’m assuming all that liquid contributes to the results.
I just got some of the Knoor recently. I was looking for a way to giving some bold tomato hints to the stew, to pep it up. Might even throw in some dehydrated picked jalapenos. I like highly seasoned, spicy dishes.
I was gonna use the homemade onion soup mix, made with the Knoor beef boullion, and although the combination makes sense to me, I wanted to get some expert opinions, including what ratios to use. I will be including a lot of fresh onions as well.
Copy that, so the potato texture is overly soft and basically disintegrates? When you normally eat the stew without freezing, would it also disintegrate if you stirred it vigorously or would it likely maintain its basic integrity even if it has a somewhat melted shape?
Also, when you say the taste is degraded, what do you mean by that?
Sorry for the endless questions, I’m trying to pinpoint what the issues are before suggesting anything. Unfortunately, I suspect the solution is what you said about using waxy potatoes and/or cooking in stages as you would conventionally but the latter generally defeats the convenience of pressure cooking in the first place. It’s doable in a stovetop pressure cooker where you can water cool it very quickly but unfortunately that’s not an option for Instant Pots and if you do a normal quick release it might agitate delicate potatoes to a mush.
“I suspect the solution is what you said about using waxy potatoes and/or cooking in stages as you would conventionally but the latter generally defeats the convenience of pressure cooking in the first place”
You said it. I was hoping for some kind of method that wouldn’t compromise the quick and easy convenience of the Instant pot.
“Also, when you say the taste is degraded, what do you mean by that?”
It’s hard to explain. Best way I can say it is it doesn’t end up tasting much like a potato. I used to only use russets, because the recipes called for russets. I might as well mash them up afterwards as a thickener, but even the waxy potatoes get broken down more than I would like. I like a waxy, roasted potato feel and firmness, or at least a reasonable facsimile.
Yeah, fair enough. I love using our pressure cooker but it has some hard parameters that are difficult to overcome (like all equipment).
That said, if you want to try a “diminishing returns” attempt at this, here are a few suggestions:
I definitely would start with waxy potatoes rather than russets. My wife specifically likes the melty texture of russets in stews but the downside is that it won’t have the same structural integrity with all other cooking conditions being equal
Reducing the size of the beef while increasing the size of the potatoes. I would think this is a no-go because likely the size of the beef pieces compared to the size of the potatoes would have to be somewhat absurd for it to be effective but if you’re willing to start with, say, 1" pieces of beef and 2" pieces of potato the square cube law might work in your favor in this case
This is definitely a pain but if you hold vegetables between 130F-140F for half an hour or so that apparently alters the pectin enough that it will hold up a bit better. That said, I read about this on America’s Test Kitchen specifically with regards to potatoes in a pressure cooker pot roast application and they didn’t use it in the final recipe.
Include some acid in the braising liquid…? I’m out on a limb with this because I haven’t tested it but acid will prevent the breakdown of pectin. However, it will frequently prevent the breakdown so much that the texture would be too undercooked and with enough acid it will stay that way basically forever (like a pickle). Still, if you want to try adding a small amount of relatively mild acid like a tiny amount of wine or tomato puree that may have the firming effect without interfering too much…? It’s really hard to say without trying it myself