Need to cook dinner, but the meat is still not completely defrosted? Over the weekend, I faced that cooking dilemma.
Friends were coming to dinner, and the chicken thighs I had planned to cook were still partially frozen in the refrigerator.
To find out the safe way to quickly defrost, I turned to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. I immediately found out that hot water was NOT an option: The outside of the thighs could reach a temperature where bacteria would grow rapidly while the interior was still frozen!
I opted for cold water thawing, which was recommended as a quick defrost method by the USDA. Placing the meat in a sealed plastic bag, I submerged it in cold tap water for 30 minutes, changing the water every 30 minutes. The thighs thawed completely – dinner was saved!
The USDA also reports that thawing food in the microwave is another safe defrosting method. You just need to cook the meat immediately after thawing to prevent bacteria from growing. You can even cook frozen meat without thawing it. However, the cooking time will take 50% longer than with thawed meat.
Of course the best way to defrost meat is in the refrigerator. This method requires more time. For example, a pound of frozen meat requires a full 24 hours (or longer) to thaw completely.
For more safe meat defrosting information, check out the USDA’s “The Big Thaw – Safe Defrosting Methods – for Consumers” printable PDF flyer.