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 V.16 No.52 | December 27 - January 2, 2008 

Ask Chef Boy Ari

No Need to Fuss about Thawing Meat

Q: Dear Flash,

I’ve heard it’s best to thaw frozen meat slowly in a fridge, like overnight. Is this true? And if so, why?

—Frozen Thoughts

A: Dear Frozen,

I’ve heard that too, and I think it’s a good idea. Unfortunately, this would require more foresight than I have on most days. I did do some digging in order to answer your question, wondering if I might learn something that might make me change my ways.

There is a reason, safety-wise, for thawing meat in the refrigerator, as opposed to a warmer environment. When thawed in the fridge, the meat can’t possibly warm up to temperatures at which bacterial growth or other forms of spoilage might occur.

Though interesting, this rationale doesn’t make me reconsider doing what I do: Drop a packet of frozen meat into a vessel of hot tap water, in which it quickly thaws. Sometimes the surface of the meat gets slightly cooked and discolored, but as soon as you cook the meat that discoloration gets covered by some real browning, so that’s not a problem. And I don’t let it sit around long enough to spoil.

Sometimes I’ll just toss a completely or partially frozen hunk of meat on the pan or grill and start cooking it. The outside tends to get a bit crispy by the time the inside gets to your desired done-ness, but I’ve never heard anybody complain about meat that was crispy on the outside and, say, medium-rare on the inside. Have you?

Whatever you do, don’t use a microwave. They have a way of cooking the meat you’re trying to defrost from the inside out. And who the heck wants a piece of meat that’s nuked on the inside and raw on the outside?

Send your food and garden queries to flash@flashinthepan.net.

 

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