There are so many different ways you can cook meat and create wonderful meals. The options are endless – we can make spaghetti with meatballs or if you are more of a classics person, you can enjoy a good juicy steak or even surf and turf if you are into something more exotic.
Every chef will tell you that cooking with fresh meat is the best option you can go for, however fresh cuts, no matter if they are beef, pork, chicken or something else, can be more expensive or even hard to find, depending on the type of meat you are looking for.
Different cuts, that are usually more expensive can be hard to find fresh in the local stores, so over the years more and more people decide to go for the option that is more convenient for them – frozen meat. It can be stored for a longer period of time, which can help you save time, however, what are the best ways to defrost meat when you actually want to cook it?
If defrosted correctly, the meat can bring a lot of flavour to the dish or even be the star of it. In this article, we will share with you our thoughts on how to thaw meat fast, but before we jump right to it, we have to learn more about the basics.
Most people are wondering why when thawing meat fast, it loses its usual qualities – the answer is simple. There is a lot of water in the meat, even when fresh and when you freeze the cut, the water molecules expand, causing damage to the flesh and when you try to defrost this cut too fast, further tissue damage can be caused as well, because of the rapid releasing of the moisture.
We cannot prevent the water molecules from expanding as it is a natural process, but we can try not to cause any further damage to the meat while thawing it.
Best ways to thaw meat
Here are the best ways to thaw meat fast and safe:
Under Cold Water
Make sure to place the meat in a leak-proof bag that is tightly sealed. You can leave the meat in a bowl large enough to accommodate the piece, place it in the sink and let the cold water run over it for 5 minutes.
It is very important not to have any of the water in contact with the meat as we want to prevent bacteria from forming. Change the water every 15-20 minutes.
In Warm Water
Another, faster method will be using warm water. You can grab a pot and warm up the water to 140F or 60C. The water should be slightly warm to the touch, but you will not be able to have your finger in it for more than a couple of seconds.
This temperature will not cook the meat, nor will it be high enough to encourage any bacteria forming, however, the faster the thawing is, the higher the chance of causing damage to the meat’s tissue, so do not leave the cut in for more than 20-30 minutes.
Before placing the meat in the warm water, again check the plastic bag – there should be no holes and it should be completely sealed.
In The Microwave
Probably the most convenient appliance is the microwave and most of them have a defrosting option too, so in theory, this should be very easy – just putting the meat in a dish and turning on the defrosting program.
As easy as this sounds, most chefs would not recommend thawing your meat in the microwave as the heat does not get distributed evenly and some parts might get slightly cooked, while other and mostly the centre will be still frozen.
This, however, depends on the thickness of the meat – defrosting smaller pieces in the microwave is perfectly safe and is probably the fastest way available, so even though most do not recommend it, it does work for smaller cuts and can save you a lot of time too!
Over The Counter
For smaller cuts of meat, defrosting over the counter is also an option, especially if you have something else to prepare, meanwhile waiting for the meat. We recommend you to place it over a tray so it can capture all the excess water.
To summarise this
The safest way of thawing meat fast will be under cold water as the slow change in temperatures will minimise the chances to damage to the flesh. Another fast way to handle thawing will be in a pot with warm water – although the faster the change in temperature, the higher the chance of cell deterioration.
When it comes to speed, the gold medal goes to the microwave, but only for smaller and thinner pieces, otherwise you risk having a half-cooked – half-frozen diner; and lastly, if you have something else to do, over the counter will do you just as good.
Now that the article has come to an end, we pronounce you a Thawing Master! Stay tuned for more!