Cooking Basics

Defrosting meat for the best flavor

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Defrosting meat for the best flavor without a microwave

Freezing food is a resourceful way to take advantage of great deals without risking spoilage. Unfortunately, many common methods for thawing meat fail to preserve texture and taste. To defrost meat for the best flavor, check out these easy tips.

The traditional method

If time is not an issue, move your future meal from freezer to fridge about 24 hours before you plan to cook it. This allows it to slowly, evenly thaw without the risk of spoiling.

Consider time

Maybe you planned on making meatloaf only to discover the center of your main ingredient still frozen in the center. When youíre short on time, itís tempting to throw rock hard chicken breast in the microwave, but you know you won't savor the results. Resist the microwave.

Premium steaks, pork, chicken and other meats are too valuable to toss in the microwave. Microwaves heat from the inside out. They donít thaw meat evenly and often they'll begin to cook the center while the outside is still frozen, so the taste of your meal will be inconsistent at best.

The trouble is thawing it in the fridge takes more than 24 hours, which requires too much planning for many. There is another option!

Hot water bath

Hot water is a magical tool when it comes to defrosting anything from cutlets and short ribs, to pork tenderloin and thick beef steaks in a hurry. According to USDA research, a water bath at room temperature will evenly thaw a steak in roughly 20 minutes, make that 11 minutes on a hot day. Since the baths work in such a short period of time, bacterial growth is minimal and well within safe limits. 

You can further reduce thaw time by increasing the temperature of the water from room temperature to the hottest available on your tap. Remove after about 5 minutes to defrost meat for the best flavor. Be aware that if you leave it in longer, it may begin to cook.

Four steps

Freezing food at home is easy. Quickly transforming thick, frozen chops into a ready-to-cook premium ingredient is just as simple. Hereís what you do:

Step one: Wash your sink or a deep pot to remove any grime and bacteria.

Step two: Turn the kitchen tap to hot and let it run until it begins to steam or is too hot to touch.

Step three: Put the plug in the drain and fill the sink (or pot) half way with hot water.

Step four: Place meat in the hot water. The level must be deep enough so it is completely submerged.

Defrosting time

Defrosting time varies depending on several factors, including how thick the cut is and how it is packaged. Basically, a 1-inch cut takes about 10 minutes using this method. It takes half that time if itís Ĺ-inch thick and twice that time if itís 2 inches.

Donít forget to factor in the type of wrap itís packed in. Mail order cuts typically arrive in thick, insulating layers. As a result, heat from the bath needs more time to reach the cut. If the wrapping is really thick, you can move it to a air-tight thinner plastic bag and then submerge it.

One more speed trick

If the hot water method still isnít fast enough for your busy schedule, thereís one more thing you can do to speed things up. Gently stir the water every minute or so. This way youíre displacing the cold spots created by the frozen cut and redistributing the warmth evenly, therefore thawing the whole piece quicker.

Defrost meat for the best flavor so you can make the most of every meal. No matter how busy you are, your taste buds will thank you for simply taking a few minutes to fill the sink with water and then beginning your prep.

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