How much beef can an instant pot handle?
December 6, 2019 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I bought a 7.5 lb flat brisket cut and would like to cook it in the instant pot, but I can't find any recipe that calls for something larger than 4-5lbs. Can I double a 3-4lb recipe and expect quality results?

Trying to cook the entire cut at once for a crowd, I have the 8 quart instant pot. I'm not sure if that much meat would work inside at one time, is this doable?

Bonus points for a good recipe; google yields plenty, this one seems simple and good enough but happy to hear any suggestions. Thanks in advance!
posted by andruwjones26 to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As a rule of thermodynamics, I expect big solid objects to cook more evenly at lower temperatures - the difference in temperature between the outside and the core is higher at higher temperatures, the time it takes for the core to catch up is shorter but usually not enough shorter for the outside not to be overcooked before the inside is cooked*. But slow cooking in not too much liquid should be fine, although it will take longer.

There’s an Instant Pot site that did an excellent test and explanation of this with sweet potatoes of different diameters. Can’t remember which.

* sometimes the difference is the point, eg crusted but rare roasts, Baked Alaska.
posted by clew at 11:41 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't think that size will literally fit inside. I have a 6-qt slow cooker and had trouble fitting a brisket that was, I think, 4 pounds.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:42 AM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have a different brand of 8-qt pressure cooker, and I don't think I would put more than 4 lb of brisket in at a time.

Incidentally, I have cooked brisket in mine, and it's great. The recipes are forgiving--as long as you brown it first and have enough liquid, you can go nuts on the seasonings. If you've got a very fatty cut of brisket, trim the excess off.
posted by adamrice at 11:46 AM on December 6, 2019

Given the following assumptions:

* 2/3 full max instant pot (I think that’s the rule)
* beef density roughly equal to water

A perfectly shaped beef cylinder of 5 kg = 11 lb should fit. So it totally depends whether you can make a 75% packing ratio.

I for one believe in you (searing should help volume but will hurt flexibility). Why not try fitting it in? If you can keep the level mostly under the max line (def liquid below max, some solids can be above) you’re fine.

Don’t forget liquid— probably a mix of red wine and chicken stock. That would be a sad day.
posted by supercres at 12:10 PM on December 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also, you'll want to cut it into chunks of about 1 lb each.
posted by adamrice at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cut it into 2-3 pieces. Brown all sides. Cook in the IP. I once cooked a 5 lb piece of pork and while the inside was cooked, it was definitely tough compared to the tender, fall-aparty outside pieces. Now I cut giant pieces of meat so that it all cooks more evenly.
posted by at 1:07 PM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

If it doesn’t work, the failure mode will be that the pot won’t pressurize (not enough headroom). I’ve had this happen maybe twice when I’ve doubled recipes that were a little too big. Workarounds for this are to cook in two batches or (if there is enough time) just slow cook the brisket instead of pressure cooking. Good luck!
posted by kovacs at 2:12 PM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Appreciate all the advice! Does anyone know how much longer I should cook the meat for? Say I end up going with this recipe which says to cook for 75 minutes, I assume I need to do longer than that? I will definitely cut it into at least 3-6 different pieces depending on how it fits.
posted by andruwjones26 at 3:03 PM on December 6, 2019

Depending on how you ended up folding it in I wouldn't necessarily increase the time too much, maybe an extra 5 minutes? But the flat isn't that thick typically and my guess is that unless you cut it and stacked the brisket, it should take about the same amount of time when it's up to pressure.
posted by Carillon at 3:09 PM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Pressure-cooker cooking can be counter-intuitive. I wouldn't automatically assume that you should cook it longer for a bigger recipe. The reason is this: a bigger recipe will take longer to get up to pressure (which doesn't count toward the nominal cooking time on an electric pressure cooker), and it's cooking during that ramp-up time too. I've seen guides that recommend shortening the cooking time when increasing the recipe size.
posted by adamrice at 10:00 AM on December 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Reporting back- I cut the 7.5 lb behemoth into 5 pieces and everything cooked great. I used a LOT of liquid to be safe (like around 2-3 cups of bbq sauce/broth mixture) and of course the meat was quite wet but still delicious. So to any future cooks reading this; yes, you can cook that much meat in the instant pot.
posted by andruwjones26 at 11:48 AM on December 9, 2019

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