Dumpster Fire Tomato Chicken Stoup

Here’s the biggest problem I’ve had transitioning from my Freezer-to-Microwave Pipeline lifestyle to an Instant Pot lifestyle: previously I ate whenever I wanted. 5 minutes of waiting impatiently in front of the microwave, and boom: food on its way to my tummy.

It didn’t matter what time a day it was, I ate when I was hungry. 10pm, 2am? Didn’t matter. Poof: food in 5 minutes or less. (And it had to be something I really wanted if I was gonna wait a full 5 minutes for food to be ready. Like Trader Joe’s Mac & Cheese. Loooove me some Trader Joe’s frozen Mac & Cheese! Otherwise, 2.5 minutes was my limit!)

But now? Now there’s all this time and effort and shit involved in feeding myself.

So last night my stomach decided it wanted Amy & Jacky’s Pork Chops in HK Tomato Sauce.

At 11:30pm.

On a Sunday.

Too bad I didn’t have any pork chops — nor any thawed meat that could be marinated.  So what’s a Hot Mess to do, but buckle-up and brace for impact?

Down to the kitchen I go, trusty tablet in one hand, and my cellphone in the other hand (so I can take photos for y’all). Once there, I pull up the the details from my recipe manager in my PlanToEat account, review the ingredients list, and assemble my soldiers for battle.

(Not pictured here are the sesame oil and dark soy sauce that I later added to the battle plan.)


First things first: the need for thawed meat to marinate.

I’ve been meaning to experiment with whether or not it is possible to thaw meat in the Instant Pot, instead of being limited to going directly from frozen to cooked.

Yes, we can put things in the pot directly from frozen, but (as you can see by the photo above) my freezing technique results in a big old block o’ meat, instead of individual pieces of meat. And, alas, they don’t just magically break apart while cooking. Nope, they stay as a big old block o’ meat. Which means not all surface areas are being infused with yummy goodness. And that’s just not right!

My experiment is immediately thwarted by the fact that I want to do two pounds of chicken thighs, which will result in two layers, which will result in extra thickness. It is only now that it dawns on me that I could have used one of my tall legged trivets to elevate the second layer more, but oh well, live and learn.

So into the pot goes 2 cups of water, a short-legged trivet, and my two big old blocks o’ meat one right on top of the other.

Manual, high pressure, 3 minutes, then quick release.

Open the lid and am treated to this lovely sight, which I’m being kind enough to not include here as an extra-large image so you can share in the joy. 😀

Because nothing says yum yum like a film of crusted-on chicken-goo around the edge of your pot!

The only thing that says yum yum more than a film of crusted-on chicken-goo around the edge of your pot — is cleaning that nastiness from around the edge of your pot! (Fortunately I have two pots, so I could just put the nasty one in the sink to soak, and leave it for later. 😀 ) (Confession: It’s still soaking.) 

And, as you can see, I probably should have just gone for 0 minutes, instead of 3 minutes, even though it was two layers. Because some of it has already started to cook, while the rest of it is raw.

Now, what is interesting here, if you look at the larger image, is that it hasn’t cooked in the way that I was expecting.

What I was expecting was for it to start cooking from the top, bottom, and sides, leaving the inside between the layers as the raw parts.

But as you can see — the top layer is still raw in the center of each of the component parts of the big old block o’ meat.

It’s like a topographical map of cooked chicken!

The hills have started to cook, while the valleys are still raw! DaFuq is up with that? It’s not like steam is a solid plane/surface incapable of engulfing both hills and valleys!

So, seriously, DaFuq? Someone explain this to me!!!


Anyhoo, I grab my favorite pair of chicken-fetching tongs, and go fishing for da widdle chickies. Closer inspection shows that they are indeed raw in the middle between the layers. And where the pokie-outie bits were touching between the layers, they are the most raw, and just a smidge cold to the touch.

So I’m definitely thinking 0 minutes is the way to go in my next experiment.


Bork the Chicken, then Marinate

Now that we’ve got some thawed chicken, we’re off to the races!

Slice, slice, slice. Dice, dice, dice. Bork, bork, bork.

To be perfectly honest — part-cooked / part-raw chicken is a little creepy… and probably actually more gross than fully-raw chicken.

I borderline grossed myself out with this part. So I’ve oh-so-kindly included a zoom-in link here, so you can be grossed-out too. 😀

Now that the chicken has been good and punished for the sins of their brothers, toss it in a bowl and get to figuring out WTF to do with it now.  Check the original recipe — which you may recall is a marinade for pork chops and not for chicken — and figure what the hell, I’ll just plow forward anyway.

Grind some sea salt over it, then throw in a totally arbitrary amount of sesame oil (because nothing says “successful meal” like an inadvertent overuse of sesame oil) — say 2 tsp worth.

Recipe says light soy sauce, so toss in some of that too. We’ll call it 2 Tbsp.

Recipe also says dark soy sauce — because after adding my own salt, then adding regular soy sauce, what’s the harm in using something that provides an additional 1600mg of sodium per 1 Tbsp serving? Seriously folks, that shit is potent. If you need some, I got it at Amazon. (Non-affiliate link because affiliate-links take effort ‘n shit, and we all know I ain’t got time for that.)

So I grab for the salt bomb Double Black Soy Sauce (non-affiliate link again, because if I didn’t have time 5 seconds ago for the last link, I sure as shit didn’t find the time between then and now), pop open the lid, give it a little pour, and promptly overshoot the bowl entirely, giving everything to my left a nice salt shower.


It’s got one of those little rectangle dribble openings, instead of a normal round pour spout — and apparently vertical is not the way to go. So I rotate the bottle to get the rectangle situated horizontally this time, give it a tilt, and overshoot the bowl again.


Mayhaps this is a sign that I shouldn’t be using the salt bomb dark soy sauce, but I press forward anyway. I very gently upend the bottle and dribble out some salty goodness.

Dribble dribble dribble.

Dribble dribble dribble dribble.

Dribble dribble dribble dribble dribble.

Recipe calls for 1/2 Tbsp, so of course I put in about 1 Tbsp instead, because: salty goodness. Massage all that together, and set aside while I tend to the next steps.

So for those keeping score, this is where we’re at so far: Bork some chicken from frozen to raw, dice it, then season with salt, and marinate in 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 Tbsp light soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce.


Now it’s time to turn my attention to the veggie part of our show. Our cast of characters is supposed to be a medium onion, a shallot, a modest number of garlic cloves, and 8 mushrooms.

So of course I choose an onion the size of a softball, a shallot the size of a Hot Wheels semi-truck, my trusted friend: the jar of pre-minced garlic — plus an entire 14 oz container of mushrooms (as shown in the ingredients pic at the top of the page).

Slice that stuff all nice and big, because as I recall from the first time I made Amy & Jacky’s Pork Chops in HK Tomato Sauce, it all cooked down into the sauce — and I’m in the mood for chunky bits tonight.

Thick-sliced onion; large-diced shallot


Thick-sliced mushrooms

Fire in the Hole!

Turn on the pot to Saute. It says HOT a lot more quickly than expected. Throw in the onions and shallots. SHIT. Forgot oil. Pour in some olive oil. Maybe 1 Tbsp, maybe 2 Tbsp. Who the hell knows. Stir that up and hope for the best, then realize on I’m on Saute Less. Double shit. No wonder it was ready so fast. Cancel. Saute More. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Saute the Onions and Shallots

Stir stir stir.

Crank in some salt and pepper.

Stir stir stir.

So far, so good. Smells like food!

Recipe says to saute for “roughly 1 minute”. I saute until the onions start to soften and turn translucent — for about 5 minutes.

Time to fling in some minced garlic. Don’t even bother with a real measuring spoon — use a soup spoon. We’ll say it was 1 Tbsp worth. Fling it in, stir it up, let it cook for another minute or two.

Add some garlic!

Next up, mushrooms!

Toss ’em in, stir ’em up, and add more salt and pepper.

Add mushrooms

Next up — I have a tomato I need to use up. Never mind the recipe doesn’t call for a tomato. But it does call for ketchup and tomato paste, so why not use a tomato? If nothing else, I can claim it as some of the cooking liquid, right? 🙂

Tomatoes! Into the pool!

For the peanut gallery: Saute 1 large onion, thick sliced, with one large shallot, large diced, until softened and translucent. Season with salt & pepper. Add 1 Tbsp garlic. Saute 2 more minutes. Add 14 oz thick sliced mushrooms, saute until softened. Season with more salt & pepper. Add 1 large tomato, medium diced, and continue to saute.

Time for Sauce!

Once the mushrooms cook down a little, time to make the sauce.

The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup water — but I’ve added the tomato, so I use 1/2 cup instead, and then add two large pinches of sugar directly from the sugar bowl. The steam from the pot manages to make the sugar adhere to my hands in a nasty clumpy mess, so time to wash up and continue on this adventure.

Next up: Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce!

We’ll call this 2 Tbsp ketchup


And we’ll call this 2 tsp Worcestershire

Stir stir stir.

Mix mix mix.

It’s smelling too much like ketchup, and not enough like Worcestershire, so dump in some more Worcestershire. Probably at least another 1 tsp. Maybe 1.5 tsp. Not sure. We’ll claim 1.5 tsp.

Mmmm, surprisingly — it’s actually starting to smell like food!

Lastly tomato paste. Recipe says 1/5 cup. Who has 1/5 cup measure? Apparently only sensible people on the metric system measuring it as 50 ml. The Dumpster Fire Kitchen, on the other hand, has an arbitrary amount of leftover tomato paste that’s been in the fridge for an unknown length of time — and it’s all going into the pool.

For scale, it’s in a 1 cup bowl here:

We’ll call this 1/4 cup tomato paste

Stir stir stir.

Mix mix mix.

Holy cow, it actually looks like food!

For the record: 1/2 c water, 2 large pinches of white granulated sugar, 2 Tbsp ketchup, 3.5 tsp Worcestershire, 1/4 c tomato paste.

Chickies in the Pool!

With nothing else left to do but pour in the marinated chicken, with all its juices — that’s exactly what happened next.

Right before closing the lid

Stir it in, and set the pot for Manual, High Pressure, 5 minutes, full NPR.

I chose the 5 minutes based on the fact that it was already partially cooked for 3 minutes, and that 8 to 12 minutes is a good starting point for cooking a thin layer of chicken from frozen. Since it was diced, I figured 5 minutes was a good number here.

A full NPR would probably be about 25 minutes.

But I got impatient after 21 minutes, and did a QR of what little pressure remained.

1 minute past my NPR tolerance!

Finishing Things Up

There was supposed to be a cornstarch slurry to thicken up the sauce — which I totally forgot to do. I also totally forgot to make some rice in my other pot. (So Trader Joe’s microwave-in-a-bag jasmine rice to the rescue!)

It came out looking almost exactly as it did going in — but with the chicken fully cooked. It could have been considered a hearty soup, since it was liquidy like soup — but the solid to liquid ratio fell on the side of the solids more than the liquids, so I suppose it could be considered a hearty soup.

With the slurry to thicken up the sauce, it could maybe have been like a stew. So we’ll just take it right down the middle and call it a Stoup.

Either way, what it was — SHOCKINGLY — was: tasty.

Not just regular old tasty, but damn tasty.

Like “there’s no eff’n way that I made this” tasty!

That sauce. Holy NOM NOM, Batman!

It was pretty damn reminiscent of the original in taste — though not at all in color or viscosity. But holy hell, tastebuds don’t care about color — and the flavor satisfied what the tastebuds were craving! I guess that extra use of the salt bomb black soy sauce was worth it! 😀

Long story short: I was slurping it directly from the pot. (And totally burnt my tongue too. 🙁 Owie.) Ok, not directly directly from the pot — I used a spoon.

This one is totally being categorized as “Surprising Success”.

I’m still in shock.


The Dumpster Fire Time Clock weighed in at 2 hours.

Start time 11:30pm. End time 1:30am.

No, I have no damn clue why it took me that long, other than I totally suck at Mise en Place.

Inspiration Credit

Remember that the above adventure was inspired by Amy & Jacky’s Pork Chops in HK Tomato Sauce recipe.  So please pop on over to their site to give them some love, and try their real recipe!

The fact that a full-on dumpster-fire adventure inspired by their recipe can come out tasting pretty damn good, and reminiscent of the original, is a testament to the amount of time and effort they put into developing recipes that work.

So seriously, go get your NOM NOM on with some Pork Chops in HK Tomato Sauce!!!!


Dumpster Fire Tomato Chicken Stoup

For entertainment purposes only

Marinate the following, and set aside:

  • 2 pounds of chicken thighs, diced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce

Saute the following, until translucent, then season with salt & pepper:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thick-sliced
  • 1 large shallot, large-diced

Add the following, stir, and saute 2 more minutes

  • 1 tbsp minced garlic from a jar

Add the following, season with more salt & pepper, stir, and saute until softened

  • 14 oz thick sliced mushrooms

Add the following, stir, and continue to saute

  • 1 large tomato, cored, and medium diced

Add the following, and stir to incorporate:

  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 large pinches of white granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 3.5 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1/4 c tomato paste

Add the marinating chicken, and all the juices into the pot, and stir to incorporate.

Cook on Manual, High Pressure, for 5 to 8 minutes depending on the size of your dice.

Allow for a full NPR (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Serve in a bowl, with a spoon, over rice.


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  • Dennise

    No one in my family except me likes mushrooms 🙁
    I’m sure I can omit them but do I need to add more water/liquid if I do?

    • Jen Neefer

      If you follow the real Amy & Jacky version that I linked to in a few different places, it uses 1/4 cup water to deglaze after browning the pork chops, with an additional 3/4 cup water for finalizing the sauce.

      Plus, the original recipe calls for only 8 total mushrooms, compared to the 14 oz total that I used. So if you follow their recipe, and not mine, you should be totally fine omitting the mushrooms, in terms of having enough cooking liquid.

      (I never recommend anyone actually try the recipes that I list, which is why they are marked “for entertainment purposes only”. 🙂 )

  • Mary Neese

    Stoup is my new favorite word! Thanks for another hearty laugh!

    • Jen Neefer

      I cannot really take credit for “stoup”. It was the in-thing for Food Network online recipes a few years ago. 🙂

  • Pam Hammitt

    Absolutely hilarious. Your imagination is beyond belief. LMAO

  • Lisa Angermann

    Sounds very savory! I’ll have to add this one to the list!

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