Proper Meat Thawing
The freezer is one of our best friends in the kitchen, and we encourage everyone to have a manageable stockpile of frozen meats on hand so you always have options for a great home cooked meal.
Having frozen meats means you need to do a little planning ahead, but we realize that life doesn't always work that way so here are some meat thawing guidelines for when you plan ahead or are in a pinch.
IDEAL: The Refrigerator
For the planners this is the best option because the meat will slowly defrost over a 18-36 hour period (depends on thickness of the cut of meat or if you are defrosting a whole chicken) at a consistent temperature that's below the USDA's magical safety mark of 40 °F.
Tip: Ground meat, stew meat, poultry, and seafood will be safe in the fridge for an additional day or two after defrosting; beef, pork or lamb roasts, chops and steaks can keep for 3 to 5 days.
More often than not we find ourselves in a situation where we need to get dinner on the table in less than a couple of hours and were staring at a freezer full of frozen meat. In these cases, place your protein in a resealable bag (most our meat will already be in a vacuum sealed bag so no need to repackage) and submerge it in a large bowl of cold tap water. Just as with the refrigerator method, thawing times depend on the size of the protein.
Tip: Small items like sausage and thin cuts of steak such as skirt steak will defrost within an hour. Thawing larger cuts will take 2 to 3 hours, and you should change out the water every hour to ensure things stay cold. You can technically use warm water to speed up the thawing process, but we typically don't recommend using hot water.
Safety Note: It is always recommended to cook any meat that was thawed in water or on the counter immediately and do not put back in the refrigerator or refreeze unless it has been cooked.
EMERGENCY SITUATION: The Microwave
If you don't have those few hours to thaw in a water bath there is technically the microwave option. Remember to remove the meat from its plastic packaging, place it on a clean plate, and consult your microwave's defrost capabilities. These setting are often wildly inaccurate leading to partially cooked meat, so if you must use this method check on the meat every minute while it defrost to ensure its defrosting and not cooking
Safety Note: Like the cold water method, anything defrosted in the microwave should be cooked immediately before being refrigerated or refrozen.
Starvation SITUATION: Cooking Meat that is still Frozen
Yes, cooking meat that is still frozen is technically an option, but doing can result in watery protein and an overall loss of quality.
Note: Only do this if you are on the brink of starvation!!!