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AshlynM's avatar

How do you thaw chicken or beef?

Asked by AshlynM (10552points) August 7th, 2016

I just put some frozen chicken breasts in a big bowl and covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to thaw.
Is this ok or should I put the chicken in a plastic bag?

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22 Answers

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Eww.

I don’t freeze it in the first place.

The bowl will work fine.

ibstubro's avatar

How long do you have? My fridge is really cold, and I have no luck thawing things in there. I usually put my frozen items in a zip bag, remove as much air as possible, and put it in the sink covered with cool water.

If things will thaw in your fridge, I don’t see a problem with the method you’re using. There’s no real advantage to a plastic bag over plastic wrap.

Mariah's avatar

We usually forget to take shit out of the freezer until way too late, so then we stopper one side of our kitchen sink and fill it with hot water and put the package in there. Place a weight on it to stop it floating so it thaws faster.

ibstubro's avatar

^^ Hot water is a poor idea, IMO. You can actually start the cooking process.
Warm to cool is better.
The more water, the better. It diffuses the cold faster. I’ve often considered putting the stuff in the tub. I’ve actually used the bathtub to thaw larger things, like a turkey.

Any food safety resource will tell you that only cold water is safe for thawing.
Pish
Posh
@Mariah and I are here, living to tell about thawing with uncold water!
:-)

Soubresaut's avatar

Depends on how much time you have to thaw it. The fridge will work, and will keep the meat from reaching room temperature, so you won’t have to cook it right away.

When we thaw meat to cook we usually leave it on the counter. If we need to speed up the process we put it in tap-cool water in the sink, which cuts the time significantly. With either of these methods, you should cook the meat once it is thawed, since you’ve brought it to room temperature (something about bacteria that you’d want to kill, not simply retard its growth in the fridge.)

Basically, the fridge will work great. You can always speed up the process later of you need to—on the counter or in water—but the fridge gives you the option of not cooking the meat that night.

In any of the cases, we keep the plastic as close to the meat’s surface as possible, but in a plastic-wrapped bowl should work since you have a sealed environment… You just don’t want to leave the meat bare and exposed in fridge, which can dry it out… However I think also the slower you thaw the better—faster thawing also stands the chance of drawing juices out of the meat—but that may just be something my family says, not sure to what extent it’s an issue.

PS—meat does cook best when it’s room temperature, so give it some time on counter if it’s coming out of fridge and you’re going to cook it.

Mariah's avatar

@ibstubro Nah it’s usually still half frozen by the time we wanna cook it, definitely not warmed up enough to start cooking yet. I’m talking some really last-minute shit right here. We haven’t mastered adulthood well enough to start, like, actually planning ahead.

janbb's avatar

@AshlynM Sounds fine the way you did it. I too prefer to thaw in the fridge given enough time.

Strauss's avatar

If I have enough time, I usually thaw it in the fridge. If I’m pressed for time, it depends on what I’m cooking and how.

IMHO, a hot water method is fine for anything you intend to cook immediately. Here are some methods I use.

Chicken: Watertight plastic bag in tap-hot water. I use a weight to keep it submerged, and usually have a trickle of hot water from the tap to keep the water hot enough to thaw. I keep my hot water at approximately 120°F (58°C). It usually thaws through in about 20 minutes without starting the cooking process. That being said, since I’m going to be cooking it anyway, a slight amount of pre-cook is not going to make that much of a difference.

Beef, ground: If it is bulk and I want patties for hamburgers, or need it fully thawed for meatloaf, I use the quick-thaw above, and then if it’s not fully thawed, I’ll use a knife to scrape the thawed away from the frozen core, and chop the core. It usually thaws while I’m seasoning/preparing. I just pay attention to the inner temp, using a meat thermometer, while I’m cooking to determine the correct done-ness (rare, medium, well, etc.). This also works for things like kabobs. They usually thaw all the way through with little or no pre-cook, and work just fine on skewers.

Larger cuts (whole or half chickens, beef or pork roasts): because of the length of cooking time on these types of cuts, a frozen core does not make a big difference. I usually adjust the cooking time, and use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s done to the right temperature, especially chicken and foul.

JLeslie's avatar

What you did is fine. It will take a full day to thaw probably, just so you know. Meaning, it won’t be thawed until tomorrow. You did it the safe way. I often leave it out on the counter for 2–3 hours, and then put it in the fridge. Very strict authorities will say thawing on the counter risks bacteria growth if it gets too warm. If you forget about it and leave it on the counter you might wind up having to throw it out. If you forget for a day when it’s in the fridge it’s no problem.

If the chicken is still a little frozen when I want to cook it, I rinse it in tepid water to remove any frost right before cooking and pat dry.

BellaB's avatar

I don’t like plastic touching food (if I can avoid it) so I would have put the chicken in a stainless bowl and then set it in a larger bowl of cold water (or in the sink). I’ve got some things that look like giant shower caps that I put over the stainless bowl to keep air/bugs/whatever off the surface of the chicken. I suspect there is plastic in those caps, but they don’t touch the food.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Gosh. I remember my mom “thawing” hamburger, for spaghetti, by putting it in a pan, on the stove, on warm, and covering it with a lid, then scraping it, then turning it, then scraping it again. This was before microwaves.

You could do this same thing with chicken. Just warm it up on the stove, covered, until it’s to the point where you can actually cook it. Are you wanting to cut it up? If so, it’s easier to cut chicken (and most every other meat) while it’s still partially frozen.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@BellaB why don’t you want plastic touching your food?

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Hamburger is different than a chicken breast. Hamburger falls apart as it warms and you can scrape it and cut it up with a spatula and get everything cooked. Chicken breast from frozen easily will cook on the outside and still be raw in the inside. Not good. If it was a steak it’s not as risky, but chicken needs to be cooked through, just like hamburger should be cooked to a minimum temp.

I also cook hamburger when it’s night completely defrosted. I don’t do it from full frozen, but I don’t worry if it’s still solid towards the middle.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If you just put the stove on “warm” and cover it, it thaws the chicken out to the point where you can actually cook it. Of course, it also depends on exactly what dish you’re making. The technique probably wouldn’t work if you were planning on battering and then frying chicken.

FYI, @ AshlynM. stuff needs to sit in the fridge for a couple of days before it’s actually thawed.

Strauss's avatar

@Dutchess_III I remember my mom “thawing” hamburger, for spaghetti, by putting it in a pan, on the stove, on warm, and covering it with a lid, then scraping it, then turning it, then scraping it again.

That’s exactly how I do it if I’m using it or some kind of sauce or casserole where it will be browned anyway.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My question is…how do you hurry up and thaw out bananas?

Strauss's avatar

In a blender with a shot of banana liqueur.

kritiper's avatar

It’ll be fine if you plan to cook them in two days. Otherwise, get the covered bowl out, keep covered, and let it sit for at least 2 hours before putting back in the fridge to complete the thaw. Then they should be good-to-go tomorrow.

YARNLADY's avatar

My microwave has a special setting to thaw out meat, poultry and fish. It works very well in a few minutes and is safe.

ibstubro's avatar

Tip – cook your crumbled hamburger before freezing.

I buy 5 pounds of hamburger just for crumbling. Cook and drain it all, then open 5 freezer and scoop equal amounts into each bag. I have a vacuum sealer and cooked and sealed a pound of hamburger is about the size of a goose egg. Just enough grease to seal the ball together.
Make no matter how you thaw it. Microwave, hot water, etc.
The mess is about the same for 1 or 5 pounds of hamburger, so you’ve saved a lot of cooking and cleaning time!

(You can mash and portion your bananas before freezing too!)

Stinley's avatar

If I am making dinner and need the chicken now, I will put it in the microwave for about two or three minutes. Then cook thoroughly. I’m suspicious of leaving it out of the fridge and have a cold cold fridge too so can’t get it to thaw in the fridge.

If I am organised I will slow cook the chicken in my crockpot from frozen.

ibstubro's avatar

Yeah, you can cook from frozen in the oven in a surprisingly short amount of time, @Stinley. Chicken breasts or fish fillets in under an hour.
Used to be I’d put the flesh in a baking pan, smother with a jar of Ragu Garlic-Parm Alfredo and top with canned diced tomatoes (squeezed dry), canned mushrooms and sliced black olives.
Bakes in 40–60 minutes. Serve on rice.

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