Sometimes, you prepare the perfect dinner – the wine chilled, the meal cooked, and dinner table prepped before anyone can even ask if the food is ready. But other times, life gets in the way: it’s 7 p.m., you’re tired from an entire day’s work, and you just realized that you forgot to defrost the meat.
During these times, it can be tempting to call in the big guns – and by this, we mean fast food delivery. But before you even pick up the phone, you should think about the frozen meat you have again.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to cook frozen meat. In fact, meat cooked without thawing can even taste as well as fresh ones, so long you do it right.
So, prepare your meat orders and get ready to start cooking tender steaks, juicy fried chicken, and mouthwatering pork chops without thawing by following the tips below:
1. Cook Chicken Twice as Long
Compared to frozen beef or pork, cooking chicken meat that hasn’t been thawed is a bit more challenging. Ideally, it is best to avoid cooking parts of chicken with the bones still attached. This is because it can be difficult to assess whether the temperature is high enough to cook through its core.
And while it is not recommended to sauté or grill frozen chicken, it is still possible to cook it safely when you follow several guidelines.
Renowned chefs recommend putting it in the oven or simmering in a sauce. But to skip the thawing, you just need to extend the cooking time by 50 to 100 percent at a temperature no lower than 350°F.
To achieve this, you must make sure that all the frozen chicken pieces have been cut in a way that each one could be spread out on a skillet or baking sheet. In short, it shouldn’t be a rock-hard lump of icy meat.
There’s one major warning, though: you should never use a crockpot or slow cooker for cooking frozen chicken – or any type of meat at that.
This is because slow cookers or crockpots tend to cook things very slowly, which means there is a higher chance that the meat would spend too much time in the danger zone. Ranging from 40°F to 140°F, the so-called “danger zone” is the temperature where salmonella and other types of bacteria are most likely to grow.
Instead, you should use your oven or stovetop to cook the chicken more quickly.
2. Run Steak in Cold Water Before Cooking
Cooking steak is both a science and an art. It requires thorough planning and on-point execution, but it also offers a way for you to exercise your creativity and resourcefulness – especially when cooking frozen steak.
When preparing steak that hasn’t been thawed, you must first run the meat under cold water while it is still in its original packaging. Do this while you’re preheating the oven to about 400°F and your oiled cast-iron pan at high heat. After a while, remove the steak from its packaging and season with salt and pepper before cooking.
At this point, you can start searing it on one side for about three minutes on the iron pan. Then, flip it over and place the entire thing — pan and all — inside the oven. Leave it there for precisely 15 minutes.
Once the time is up, you can remove the steak from the oven. Check whether it has reached the internal temperature you want and let it rest for five to eight minutes before slicing. Remember to slice against the grain to get a mouthwatering, tender steak.
You see, a fully frozen steak results in a nice browning reaction when cooked at high temperatures. This means that, compared to thawed meat, frozen steaks have less grey, overcooked parts under the crust.
3. Cook Pork Twice Longer at 350°F or Higher
Cooking frozen pork is essentially similar to cooking chicken or beef – extend the cooking time by about 50 to 100 percent and maintain a temperature of no lower than 350°F.
However, cooking times can be different with every pork chop. To be sure that it’s in the right range, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. When puncturing the meat for a temp check, be sure to get as close to the core as possible.
Aside from cooking it directly, thawing frozen pork in the microwave is actually much quicker than thawing it in the refrigerator or under cold water. Also, remember to cook the meat immediately after thawing as it is unsafe to leave them at that temperature for a long time.
To a Well-Cooked Frozen Meat
If you often buy meat in bulk, there’s a good chance that you need to freeze them for quite some time. Whether you’re short on preparation time or just want to try a taste of cooked frozen meat, use this article as a guide to safely cook chicken, beef, or pork without thawing.
Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Bidfood UAE with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.