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Thread: Help! Defrosting meat / meal planning page

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    ozone's Avatar
    ozone is offline Junior Member
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    Help! Defrosting meat / meal planning

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    I am having a hard time getting in the groove with meal planning, mainly due to the timing/mis-timing of defrosting meats. I have portions of pastured pig, grass-fed cow, and husband-shot elk in my freezer and chest freezer. But I am terrible at timing the defrost. For days, things still seem frozen solid, and then all of a sudden it seems like it's been in the refrigerator too long and no longer good to cook. I don't know what to take out of the freezer when. I am wasting money, aggravating myself, and making it very difficult to stick to this diet because I don't have enough meat ready to cook (we are still heavy and go through A LOT of meat).

    Most people I know in real life buy their meats fresh and don't really defrost much, but I know there are a lot of Paleo people with whole cows and such in their freezers like me. How do you work it? How do you know when it's thawed enough to cook? How do you know if it's gone bad? Do you unwrap from butcher paper before thawing? Do you take any thawing shortcuts? Are there any good rules of thumb based on cut of meat?

    I have got to get myself sorted in this regard if I am going to continue to buy local/pastured/grass-fed meats. I would appreciate any tips on defrosting and meal planning with regard to meats. Thanks.

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    Rivvin's Avatar
    Rivvin is offline Senior Member
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    I just throw shit in a bag and let it sit in a bowl under running cold water. That's that stuff out quick as heck.

    I generally try to plan ahead and thaw on the counter and then let it finish thawing overnight in the fridge to cook the next day, but if I forget it goes into the running water.

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    Diana Renata's Avatar
    Diana Renata is offline Senior Member
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    Whatever I plan on eating, I pull it out of the freezer and let it set in the sink overnight. It's thawed by morning, then I put it in the fridge til I get home from work.

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    onalark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diana Renata View Post
    Whatever I plan on eating, I pull it out of the freezer and let it set in the sink overnight. It's thawed by morning, then I put it in the fridge til I get home from work.
    Yup. The meat I get from US Wellness is conveniently in plastic bags. So either I throw it in the sink overnight or in the morning before I go to work.

    If I forget (which does happen), I pull a Rivvin and drop it in a sinkful of cool water and set to chopping vegetables. It's usually defrosted in 20-30 minutes.

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    Dr. Bork Bork's Avatar
    Dr. Bork Bork is offline Senior Member
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    We have a big dry erase calendar in our kitchen that we write all our important events on (dr appointments, school, dates, pay day, etc). on this calendar we also write out all of our meals for a 2 week span (paycheck to paycheck). This immediately forms the bulk of our grocery list.
    Every day, I take out frozen meat in the morning, and leave it on the counter (still wrapped), and it's defrosted when I am ready to fix dinner at 5:30.
    Maybe try leaving your meat out? Wait until it's completely defrosted before putting it back in the fridge.
    I've found that the only critter that honestly defrosts at a fast pace is fish (put it in a bowl of water and it's ready to go in 20 mins)
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    I never plan ahead. Just how I am, and I never know how many people will be home for dinner anyway. I always fill the sink or a bowl with cold water, drop in the meat (in a sealed plastic bag) and it's usually defrosted in 20-60 minutes, depending on the size and shape. Which, by the way, is why I always form ground beef into flat rectangles inside the freezer bags. Flat defrosts much better than other shapes (like tubes or something) and it stacks better in the freezer anyway.
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    I have started experimenting with putting things directly from the freezer into the crock pot. My freezer holds 0 or below so the stuff is frozen solid. So far, if anything, things taste better. Last week gravy (that would be tomato sauce for most of you) with chicken and Italian sausages came out just sublime with the bones kind of disintegrating and the meat still moist after 9+ hours (5 on high, 3+ on low). Works with ribs and shank steaks as well.

    I don't have the room to stock up on the larger cuts (yet) but I don't see why this wouldn't work for something like pot roast as well. I would line the bottom of the pot w/ onions and carrots to hold the roast out of the liquid, chuck some spices in along with the frozen cut and let it go all day on low. Come home from work to a ready meal. I really need to get a programmable crock.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozone View Post
    How do you know when it's thawed enough to cook.
    The only reason to defrost food before cooking is because the outside will be overcooked by the time the middle reaches doneness. So the temperature you want the meat at before cooking depends entirely on how you're cooking it and what you're cooking. If you're cooking a steak in a frypan, you might even want to let the steak reach room temperature before you start to cook it, so that it takes less time for the middle to reach the desired doneness (and so less of the meat is overcooked).

    So defrosting meat only matters if you're using a dry cooking method (some part of the meat exposed to hot surface, oil or air, where it can burn). Wet cooking methods are temperature controlled, such as if you were stewing the meat (won't ever go above boiling temp unless it boils dry), using a crockpot (won't go above a simmer) or a sous-vide water oven (will stay at whatever temperature you set it, between room temperature and boiling). So you can put frozen meat in directly and the outside won't burn or be overdone while the inside defrosts.
    Last edited by Doddibot; 08-17-2011 at 10:19 PM.
    "Thanks to the combination of meat, calcium-rich leaf foods, and a vigorous life, the early hunter-gatherers were robust, with strong skeletons, jaws, and teeth." - Harold McGee, On Food And Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

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    I am assuming you people who put food on the counter over-night or throughout the day are talking about big pieces of meat? Cause I know I personally would not like to eat a rib-eye that's been sitting in an 80 degree room for 8 hours. Maybe I'm just a pussy though.

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    onalark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivvin View Post
    I am assuming you people who put food on the counter over-night or throughout the day are talking about big pieces of meat? Cause I know I personally would not like to eat a rib-eye that's been sitting in an 80 degree room for 8 hours. Maybe I'm just a pussy though.
    My house is usually in the low 70s (we're by the ocean), and I like my meat at room temp before I start cooking. If it's pork or beef, I pull it out before work, so it's actually sitting about 9-10 hours before I use it. Chicken and fish I try to do in the fridge. Everything gets a sniff before I put it in my meal. Mom did the same thing.

    So far, so good. Not that that means I think everyone should do as I do, but I've yet to be poisoned by my own cooking habits.

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