Trying to cut frozen meat straight from the freezer is like trying to chop down a tree in the kitchen. But does it have to be that difficult?
In this post let me share my top 6 hacks for more easily cutting meats straight from frozen. See also some novel ways to quickly thaw out meat.
#1 Try the Pots Sandwich Method
Metal pots are excellent conductors of energy. As such, placing your frozen meat in one can help speed up the process of thawing. But the real magic happens when you sandwich your frozen meat between two metal pots.
Through conduction and the added weight of the pots pressing against the meat, this method can thaw out a thin piece of frozen steak in less than 5 minutes, 10 minutes if it’s thick.
Do note though that this only works if your meat is flat-shaped just like with steaks, chicken breasts, and burger patties.
- Place your frozen steak in a zip lock bag.
- Flip one metal pot over and place the steak on top of it.
- Take another metal pot and add some room temperature water. No need to fill it to the brim with water. The important thing is to make it just heavy enough to press on the meat.
- Put the second metal pot on top of the steak, sandwiching the meat between the two metal pans.
- Once your steak is soft enough, you can start cutting or cooking it.
The pan’s weight and conductivity will thaw a 1-cm thick frozen steak in just 5 minutes. Of course, the thicker the steak is, the longer it will take to defrost. Also, make sure to only use room temperature water.
Check out this video which shows how the sandwich method is done.
#2 The 2-in-1 Vinegar Technique
Hit two birds with one stone with the vinegar technique. The next time you need to cut frozen meat, pour some vinegar on it first. This brings down the freezing temperature, allowing your frozen meat to soften up faster. On top of that, the vinegar’s acidity can dissolve connective tissues, tenderizing your meat as you thaw.
If you’re worried about your meat tasting sour, you can always wash it off before cooking. Personally, I like using apple cider or balsamic vinegar since it adds more flavor to the meat.
#3 Take Advantage of Your Granite Countertop
Granite countertops are a popular addition to the modern kitchen. Aside from having pleasing aesthetics and good durability, did you know that you can use it to quickly thaw frozen food too?
If you place a relatively thin slab of meat on your granite countertop, it’ll be soft enough for cutting once you finish prepping your other ingredients. What is it about granite that makes this possible?
Well, granite is a good heat conductor. It feels cool to the touch because if an object warmer than the granite countertop’s own temperature is placed on it, it will absorb the heat. At the same time, a granite countertop will pass its heat to a colder object. The more mass a certain object has, the greater the heat it can hold. Since a granite countertop has a lot of mass, it can pass on great amounts of heat to your frozen meat, quickly thawing it.
If you’re worried about the liquid from the thawing meat contaminating your countertop, you can place it on a metal pan. Not only will the metal pan collect the liquid, it will also speed up the process of thawing since it is a good heat conductor as well. Just don’t forget to throw out the cold liquid every now and then to maintain the warm temperature.
Bonus Tip: A wooden cutting board is one of the worst surfaces when it comes to quickly defrosting frozen meat for cutting. Unlike granite which is a good conductor, wood is a good insulator. This means that thawing frozen meat takes longer to thaw on wooden surfaces.
#4 Use a Good Manual Meat Slicer
A good manual meat slicer is one of your best bets if you want to cut frozen meat without thawing. In fact, one of my favorite kitchen tools is my trusty Seeutek Manual Meat Slicer.
Now, you might be thinking – why should I invest in such a product when I can always just wait for the meat to thaw before cutting?
Well, I can think of several reasons:
- Time-Saving – A manual meat slicer saves you time because you don’t need to wait for the meat to soften up before slicing. Since it’s perfectly fine to cook from frozen, you can start cooking right away. In fact, according to Cook’s Illustrated Senior Editor Dan Souza, an experiment they conducted showed that though it takes longer to cook frozen meat by about 50%, frozen meat makes juicier steaks. You can watch their side-by-side test in the video: Link
- Paper-Thin Slices – If you’re like me and you love hot pot and shabu-shabu, then paper-thin slices of meat are a must. While this is totally possible with a knife, a good meat slicer has advantages when it comes to thinness, efficiency, and safety.
- Safety – According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), it isn’t safe to refreeze food unless it was thawed in the refrigerator. This means that if you have a huge chunk of frozen meat, you have to cook it right away if you don’t thaw it in the fridge. With a meat slicer, you can just put the frozen meat back in the fridge after slicing what you need.
- Flexibility – Aside from frozen meat, it can also help you slice hard vegetables.
#5 Zap It with Your Microwave Oven
For times when you want to slice and cook your frozen meat as soon as possible, you can rely on your microwave oven to soften it up enough for you. In fact, some microwave ovens already come with an automatic defrost function.
One important thing to remember though is that frozen meat thawed through this process should be cooked right away. According to the USDA, microwaving the meat unevenly and partially cooks it, providing bacteria with the environment they need to flourish. To eliminate this bacteria, cooking is required.
#6 Bring Out Your Butcher Saw
Finally, if your frozen meat is too big to use any of the hacks above, I suggest bringing out the ace and using a butcher saw to do the job. Though this is the most expensive choice out of the hacks in this list, it is, by far, the most effective. A fellow satisfied user of my favorite Weston Butcher Saw said that he was able to slice through a whole frozen goat which his friend sent him.
Thawing Out Meat the Conventional Way
When you’re not in in jam, the safest way to defrost your meat is still to leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Though it is a very slow process, the cold temperature of the refrigerator allows the frozen meat to thaw without turning into a breeding ground for bacteria. The key lies in planning ahead. Moreover, if you change your mind about cutting and cooking the meat, you can freeze it again without worries.
When cutting, place a wet towel between your countertop and cutting board to prevent it from sliding around while cutting frozen meat.
Finally, a dull knife is a dangerous knife. So, make sure that the knife you’ll be using to cut frozen meat is sharp enough to do the task.