You don’t have to thaw meat before you cook it, but we recommend it. Why? Because part of becoming a great cook is knowing your timings. Frozen or partially frozen meat will throw you off your game, and you’ll end up with raw centers.
First, don’t thaw meat on the counter. If you leave it out too long, it can develop unsafe levels of bacteria. You also lose all your optionality. Decide to change your dinner plans that night? You’ll have to toss it in the bin. Also, don’t thaw meat in hot water. Again, high temp equals bacterial growth, and bacteria equals food poisoning. That’s why it’s so important to apply only safe methods!
Here are the three thawing methods for safe and healthy cooking:
Defrosting In The Refrigerator
This is the best way to defrost because you’ll keep your meat at a safe temperature, typically below 40 degrees. If you plan on thawing in the fridge, you’ll need to plan ahead: it can take a full day for meat to fully defrost. A large cut of meat, such as a roast or whole bird, may take up to 48 hours. While, for example, the thawing process of ground beef won’t take so much time.
You should wrap the meat or place it in a covered dish before putting it in the refrigerator. This will catch any juices that run off of it. Make sure you cook the meat within three to five days of thawing it.
Defrosting Using Cold Water
This is a quicker way of defrosting frozen foods. You can defrost small cuts of meat within an hour using cold tap water. Larger cuts of meat can take up to three hours. You will need to place the meat in a plastic bag before thawing. Make sure the bag doesn’t have any leaks.
Place the meat in a bowl of water. Change the water every half hour. If you don’t change the water, then the meat will decrease the water’s temperature, which means it will take a longer time to thaw.
Defrosting In A Microwave
If you need to quickly thaw meat, then you may want to consider a microwave. Remove the wrap or freezer bag prior to defrosting the meat. You will also need to remove the meat from its Styrofoam tray. Styrofoam is not safe to place in a microwave.
Place the meat inside a microwave-safe dish and place a microwave-safe covering over it. Use the defrost setting on your microwave. If your microwave does not have a defrost setting, then you can adjust the settings to 30 to 50 percent power. Microwave the meat for eight to 10 minutes for every pound.
Keep in mind that microwaving the meat will cook it partially, so you really need to cook it as soon as it’s thawed. It applies especially to chicken breasts since it takes just a moment to defrost them in the microwave.
To Wrap Up
That’s it. Defrosting meat properly is all about safely avoiding bacteria build-up. Don’t use any other wacky defrosting methods you may have heard. Worst case, put your frozen meat directly on the grill. It’ll take longer, but remember the second rule of grilling: adapt to your meat; don’t expect it to adapt to you.