The thought of having homemade fried chicken with your family for dinner just makes you drool. Crispy golden skin, hot and juicy flesh, and hauntingly good smell – you just want to rush home and head straight to the kitchen and finish the job. But, you just realized right now, it’s still an icy cold raw chicken sitting on the freezer and you forgot to take it out. Poof! Daydreaming’s over. But what if we tell you there’s still a way for your dinner to have a fairy tale ending? This article will talk about how to defrost chicken quickly. We found three methods that will do the trick: through microwave, frozen cooking, and quick water thaw.
Basic principles of thawing frozen chicken
First things first. Why do you need to get chicken out of its frosted state before cooking? The answer is simple. You want to create an environment that will allow even heating of all parts or pieces of the chicken. If some parts are cold and some are warm, you’ll be feasting on a dish with overcooked and undercooked meat. The safest and most effective way of defrosting chicken is to transfer it from the freezer to the chiller. Overnight, it will lose the ice whilst avoiding prolonged exposure to warm temperature.
You will know if you did a sufficient defrosting job by making a small incision on the thickest part of the chicken. If there are no ice crystals present, you may proceed to cooking it. This test for doneness applies to all methods that will be discussed here further.
How to defrost using the microwave?
Second to the gold standard of defrosting in the fridge, the microwave method proves to be the most effective way of defrosting chicken quickly. It’s easy and it buys you time to do other meal prep activities. There are two things you need to be mindful of when defrosting chicken using a microwave. First, make sure you will use it the moment it’s done defrosting. Leaving it out warm for a long time can spark issues in food safety. Second, you need to spot check the chicken from time to time to avoid “premature cooking”. Microwaving is not ideal for bigger cuts of chicken as the outside may get cooked and the central part still cold.
How to defrost chicken quickly in a microwave is a cakewalk. Simply heat frozen chicken on a microwave for 10-15 minutes at 50% power. However, there is no right rule for this as it may vary depending on the amount and the cut of chicken. Some microwaves have special “defrost” features so better check the manual for the ideal minutes. Check from time to time if the warming effect is enough. Feel free to add or cut microwave time as you see fit.
How to defrost using a quick water thaw?
Now, let’s discuss how to defrost chicken quickly using a water thaw. If you don’t have a microwave at home and you are graced to have a couple of hours to defrost, this option is your best buddy. However, the downside of this is it requires frequent checking and replacement of water baths. Check out these easy steps for a quick water thaw:
- Place frozen chicken on a sealed plastic bag. Doing this will prevent bacterial contamination when you expose it to water and other probable environmental contaminants.
- Submerge the filled and sealed bag on a tub of cold water. Not lukewarm, not warm, but cold water.
- Change the water every 30 minutes. Depending on the cut and the amount of chicken, this procedure may take about 2-3 hours.
How to defrost by frozen cooking?
What if you are left with practically no time at all? Time is ticking and your guests are coming in less than an hour. Here’s a useful hack: screw thawing! Toss those solid chunks of meat in cooking water on stockpot or pop it ready in the oven for roasting. Just extend your cooking time 50% longer. If the chicken is presented in cuts or slices, separate them first to allow easier defrosting. Be very keen in regulating heat. Before the meat tenderizes, you need to melt the ice crystals chicken first. Sometimes, if you’re on high heat, the outside surface appears cooked already but when you make a slit, ice crystals are just starting to melt inside.
Unfortunately, this is not applicable for all cooking methods. If you’re making a braised dish, this method is safe. However, if your plan is to sauté or pan-sear or deep fry it, go try something else. Who would dare drop a frozen piece of meat in a pot filled with bubbling hot oil? More than avoiding such possible kitchen disasters, frying while cooking will not work because the excess moisture will not allow you to have that crispy or caramelized interior you’re aiming for.
Safety points to remember when defrosting
In all stages of cooking, what we want to avoid is exposing food to temperature danger zones i.e. 40 °F – 140 °F. This rule does not exclude thawing and it’s very crucial for protein-dense products such as raw chicken. Others try to thaw chicken under copious running water. This set up is okay if the kitchen sink has its own cubicle or if it’s deep enough not to splash droplets of water all around your workplace. Having touched uncooked chicken, this is already considered contaminated water and you should avoid cross-contaminating other items you have in your kitchen.
At all cost, never thaw chicken in your countertop or any place at room temperature. Resist the urge also to immerse it in warm water instead of cold water. While you are very slowly bringing the ice crystals to melt, you are exposing it to undesirable temperature condition. Of similar reasons, if you’re after a slow-cooked chicken meal, do not apply the frozen cooking method. You are allowing bacteria especially Salmonella to proliferate at high speed and you’re risking everyone who will eat to catch foodborne illness. Remember, your goal should not only be the manner of defrosting chicken quickly but also safely.
There you have it! Again, if you forget to take out your frozen chicken out of its storage place or if you’re just not having the best luck in time, try these easy life-saving alternatives to defrosting.