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Nov 11, 2013 10:06 AM

Can a whole chicken be prepared in a 6L pressure cooker?

I'd like to prepare a whole chicken using a 6L pressure cooker. Would it be large enough and how do you go about it? P.S. The cooker trivet and basket are long gone.

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  1. You CAN do that, but you shouldn't. The dark meat may survive the time in the pressure cooker, but the white meat will be horribly dry and stringy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mwk


      If the chicken were cut up, you wouldn't advise cooking the white meat at the same time as the dark pieces?

      1. re: QueensTomato

        Personally, I find that white meat is very very finicky when braised like you would in a pressure cooker. It dries out and becomes tough and stringy. It also cooks much faster than the dark meat.

        Is there a reason why you need to use a pressure cooker, and why it needs to be a whole chicken?

        I have seen some pressure cooker recipes which use foil packets to slow down cooking of certain ingredients. For example, in a beef stew, they would wrap the carrots in foil to keep them from over cooking. I suppose you might try cutting up the chicken and wrapping the breast in foil. Or, do an experiment and wrap one half of the breast and leave the other unwrapped.

        Honestly, I've never successfully cooked white meat chicken in a pressure cooker. When I've made stews, curries, etc., the dark meat is just so much better.

    2. Without a trivet or similar there will be burning/scorching. Based on experience.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Alan408


        If I had a trivet or similar, would it be advised? What can I use in lieu of the trivet and basket that came with the cooker?

        1. re: QueensTomato

          I was at a party when the the hostess tried to cook chicken parts in a pressure cooker with out the trivet, the chicken burned before it came up to pressure, we could smell it. Even though she had liquid in the pan, the chicken touching the bottom of the pan burned.

          I looked at my pressure cooker, must be 4-5 qts, a whole chicken will not fit inside my pressure cooker, but yours is larger.....I looked at the manual to see if I could determine the size, I couldn't, then I looked at poultry recipes....all of the recepies recommend cutting into serving pieces before cooking, then I looked at beef recipes, there were 2 for 3lb roasts. So, my pressure manufacturer is recommending parting chicken, but there are recipes for 3lb chunks of beef. There are Cautions in several places about overfilling, There are right and wrong pictures, right food level is below the handle bracket, which looks like ~2/3 full. Wrong food level picture shows food above the bottom of the handle bracket. The text cautions against filling more than 2/3. According to the manual, there are two lines inside my pot; 1/2 and 2/3.

          For a trivet replacement, maybe a couple of empty tuna cans, but that may put the height of the chicken above the 2/3 mark.

          1. re: Alan408

            I've never needed a trivet. Occasionally the skin sticks, but that's a far cry from burning. Even after 50 minutes in.

            1. re: Chowrin

              Since my last post, I read the instruction booklet for my Presto Pressure cooker.

              I think too high of heat was the reason for my experience of chicken burning before coming to pressure.

              Presto named the trivet a cooking rack, suggested uses are for steaming foods, to hold foods such as vegetables out of the cooking water which allows the cooking of several different foods at the same time without an intermingling of flavors.

              So, based on the owner's manual for my pressure cooker, if the chicken will fit, cook it.

      2. Occasionally I do a large (5-6 lb) chicken in the 6L Fagor. It fits fine.

        Lorna Sass recommends 9 minutes with fast release, but most of her recipes use up cut up chickens. (though my gut feeling is that is too short - still one can check and add more time if needed).

        When placed breast side up, it's the dark meat that is in contact with the cooking liquid (which doesn't need to be much), while the breast is steamed.

        I don't use for a chicken that I want to present whole; instead I remove all the meat after cooking, and put the bones back in the PC for further stock making.

        An alternative is to dismember the bird, put the stock making parts in the bottom of the pot, the dark meat on top, and the breasts on top (or reserve those for another use).

        9 Replies
        1. re: paulj


          I'd like to cook it whole, and carve up to serve after cooking.

          How much cooking liquid have you used and what have you added to the cooker for flavor?

          Thank you for the link. It is interesting and offers good flavor suggestions, but the beer in the parts list is not an option for me.

          1. re: QueensTomato

            Yeah, that's not gonna happen.

            I *adore* my pressure cooker- it's a completely amazing device- but I don't expect it to act in the same way as an oven or a fry-pan or an ordinary pot.

            An intact bird, I think, would be out of the question, however, if you were to cut it up into bits, marinade overnight (or in 20 mins with a whipping syphon), and then add a beautiful liquid, you've got the makings for jaw-droppingly gorgeous pulled chicken, begging for a squeeze of lime, guac, some white sauce and a small tortilla. If you've got the syphon, I imagine it'd take an hour from start to finish.

            FWIW, good for you for working with the P.C. A far-underutilized utensil, IMO.

              1. re: QueensTomato

                that's... a two lb. chicken.
                *shrugs* you'll get edible.

                1. re: QueensTomato

                  25 minutes in a pressure cooker for a 2 pound chicken?

                  That seems very, very wrong.

                  If you can even find a 2 pound chicken it would take about 45 minutes to roast it in the oven.

                  I love my pressure cooker but I'd never cook a whole chicken in it to carve and serve.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    I noticed the "2 pound" in the recipe too but chalked that up to a typo since in the recipe reviews someone used a larger bird with good results.

                    Hounds that have had any success with a whole bird in a cooker please let me know!

                  2. re: QueensTomato

                    I think it'll work, i.e.: you'll get cooked chicken. In the worst case scenario, you open the lid and it's not fully cooked, you just bung it back on the stove, bring it back up to pressure, and cook it longer.

                    To my mind, though, whole chicken is all about the gorgeous bronzed skin, crisp and rendered, savoury, juicy dark meat (my favourite part of the bird, after the fat and skin) and tender, pull-apart white meat. To get that kind of result, you need to use either a convection oven or indirect heat from a BBQ (mine is a BGE, which means I get decent convection action). A pressure cooker just ain't gonna do that, but again, for melt-in-your-mouth pulled chicken, I haven't seen anything better in less time.

                  3. re: biggreenmatt

                    Good timing on this thread- I made myself chicken carnitas in the pressure cooker last night. Full boneless, skinless chicken, a bit of stock to keep everything moist, on the hob for a half hour. Remove and shred chicken, added chili powders, chipotle and adobo sauce to the stock, reduced and added back to the shredded chicken.

                    Magnificent. Super-moist, flavourful, succulent chicken, super-easy, took less than 45 minutes from start to finish.

                    Reason why I'm such a huge fan of the cooker is that it's absolutely perfect for last-minute, weeknight meals. I'm shocked shocked shocked that in these busy times, more people haven't seen the light and bought a cooker or two for themselves.

                    1. re: biggreenmatt

                      I am too. I used to be one of those people, but I have now seen the light. ;D

              2. I would do it for chicken parts to be used in a dish, like chicken and dumplings, or stew, but I would not do it for a bird you want to serve whole, i.e. like a roasted chicken. An oven is much better suited for that.

                5 Replies
                1. re: boogiebaby

                  I totally agree

                  You can roast a delicious chicken in an hour.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    How do you roast a chicken in an hour?

                    1. re: QueensTomato

                      The size chicken specified in the recipe would cook at 375 in probably less than an hour.

                      A larger chicken can be cooked in an hour or less using Barbara Kafka's brilliant high heat recipe. Superb.

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        Mainly whats available to me is 4lb chickens. How would I use the high heat recipe?

                        The last time I used high heat was to finish off a steak in a cast iron pan and the smoke alarm went off and the neighbors complained of the smell...

                        1. re: QueensTomato

                          Use this recipe


                          It does throw off smoke but lining your roasting pan with a layer if thinly sliced potatoes helps a lot.

                          Try to buy smaller chickens. They taste better and are more tender.

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