Thawing raw chicken in cold water?

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Fast Method 2: Cold Water Thawing

Any thawing method you use should try to avoid keeping the meat in the Danger Zone. Cold water thawing is a fast way to thaw meat while completely avoiding bringing your meat within the Danger Zone.

Cold water thawing works best with smaller cuts of meat such as ground beef, steak, or chicken pieces. It’s not as effective for large roasts or a while chicken and one of the other methods are better suited.

Step 1: Seal the meat in zip-lock bags

While you could simply submerge the meat into a bowl of cold water, it’s not recommended. Not only will the meat absorb water and possibly become water-logged, but it may also introduce bacteria to the meat.

If your meat’s packaging is vacuum-sealed as shown below, then you can simply submerge the entire packaging in the water.

The key point is that you don’t want any air

The key point is that you don’t want any air in the packaging or in the zip-lock bag. Any air will slow the thawing process significantly.

If you slowly submerge your bag before sealing it, you can remove all of the air (don’t let the water go into the bag) and seal it.

Make sure the bag or packaging you use is completely leak-proof to avoid external contamination or water-logging.

Step 2: Submerge the meat in cold water

Once your meat is packaged up, submerge it into a big bowl of cold water.

Make sure the entire package is completely submerged to get the best results. You may need to add a bowl with weight on top to keep everything below the surface.

Why cold water? You might think that using warm or hot water will speed the process up. The problem with using warm or hot water is that it will quickly heat up the surface of the meat and keep it within the Danger Zone the entire time it is submerged. Not good. The only time warm or hot water can be considered is when you’re thawing thin cuts of meat. Thin cuts will thaw quickly (less than 10 minutes), which will limit the time spent in the Danger Zone. As long as you immediately cook the meat at a suitable temperature after thawing, it will be okay.

Cold water submersion is very effective at quickly defrosting meat because water is an excellent conductor when compared to air. Imagine sitting in a hot sauna vs water at the same temperature. You might be able to withstand the hot air in a sauna, but the same temperature water would severely burn you in seconds.

Step 3: Stir the Water Every 5-10 Minutes

As the bowl of cold water starts to thaw the meat, it will develop a cold barrier against the meat packaging. This barrier forms when the water is left untouched.

Stirring the water will disturb the barrier and speed up the thawing process. It’s okay if you’re not able to regularly stir the water, it just helps speed up the process.

Step 4: Replace the water every 30 minutes

If you’re thawing a lot of meat or large pieces, it will take longer to thaw. As the meat thaws, it cools the water down towards its freezing point. This slows the thawing process down.

Replacing the water every 30 minutes or so will speed up the thawing process. This will prevent the water in the bowl from getting too cold and slowing down the thawing process.

Cook from frozen

Guillard only recommends cooking flat cuts of chicken from frozen: chicken steaks, butterflied chicken breast, chicken tenders, and deboned chicken thigh meat. 

“Something like a full-size breast will not necessarily cook in the middle while it’s already finished cooking on the outside,” he says. Guillard recommends increasing cook time to about 30 percent more than you would while cooking fully thawed chicken. 

However, the best way to know your chicken is finished cooking is by making sure an infrared thermometer reaches the USDA-recommended 165 degrees, he says. Plus, one benefit to cooking from frozen is that the extra moisture makes your chicken more juicy and tender.

The Process:

Start off by taking out your frozen chicken from the fridge and pull it out from its packaging (or if it’s in a bowl).

Grab a clean and empty zip bag such as a Ziplock and transfer your frozen chicken into it.Ensure that the bag you’ve chosen is enough to cover the whole chicken since you’ll need to seal it after.

Once your chicken is in the bag, squeeze out any air that remains. Before submerging it in cold water, make sure that there is no trace of air inside.

After making sure, no more oxygen remains, seal it properly to ensure no water comes in. Set aside.

Take out a basin that’s big enough to cover the whole chicken and fill it in with cold icy water.

Then put in your sealed frozen chicken and wait for it to fully thaw.Change the cold water with a new one every 30 minutes to make sure that it always stays cold and continues to thaw the poultry.Smaller cuts of meat (about a pound) can defrost in an hour or sometimes less, while larger quantities (4 to 5 pounds) may take 3-4 hours or more.

Once your poultry has fully thawed, cook it right away, so it’s freshness and taste will not be altered. Don’t refreeze the meat once you’ve thawed it!

Are You Thawing Chicken Wings Right?

Defrosting your wings in the refrigerator overnight will be your best option. It keeps your meat away from hot environments and harmful organisms. If you don’t have much time on your hands and you need to defrost your wings fast, you can try either thawing it with cold water from the sink or placing it in the microwave. If you use these methods, cook the food immediately after it thaws. This way, your chicken thaws evenly and safely!


Quick Thaw Chicken in Water

To thaw chicken quickly when you are in a rush, place frozen chicken in a tightly sealed bag (either in vacuum sealed bags or sturdy, leak-proof, zipper-top storage bags) in a bowl of cold water.

Do NOT thaw chicken in hot water! It’s not safe.  Besides possibly causing bacteria to form, warm water will also start to “cook” the outside of the meat before the middle is thawed).  Some people like to place the sealed chicken in a bowl, and allow cold water to run over the chicken, filling the bowl and overflowing into the sink, until the chicken is defrosted.  This is effective, but a pretty big waste of water, so I don’t recommend it.

How Long to Thaw Chicken in Water?

You can thaw ground chicken (or turkey) in about an hour, a small amount of boneless chicken will probably defrost in 1 to 2 hours, larger amounts and bigger cuts may take a few hours.  

If you are thawing multiple pieces in a bag, once the pieces have thawed enough to be separated, open the bag, pull the pieces apart, then reseal the bag and return it to the water.  This will speed up the defrosting.  Keep checking until the meat is thawed.  Once the meat is thawed using this method you should cook it right away.

How Long Is Frozen Chicken Good

Chicken that is in your freezer also has a time limit that it is good for. The length of time depends on what form it is in. Pieces of raw chicken should be kept in your freezer no more than six months before they are used. Whole chickens on the other hand, can be frozen up to one year. 

Cooked chicken that has been frozen will get the best results if used before it has been frozen for four months. Otherwise, it will become dry tasting and a bit freezer burnt. Pieces of cooked chicken can be warmed up while still frozen or thawed using another method. 

How Can I Defrost Chicken Quickly?

Now that you know that thawing your poultry in hot water isn’t ideal and safe for your health, there’s no need to worry because there are other alternatives you can do to defrost your poultry quickly.

Shown below are the best ways people have sworn to effectively work when it comes to defrosting, not only your poultry but also other kinds of meat!

How Not to Thaw Chicken?

Do NOT thaw chicken on the counter. Unfortunately, this good old method of thawing chicken on the countertop isn’t actually a safe way. It can be pretty harmful. Frozen food should never be left thawing on the counter because it leaves the chicken open to hot air and bacteria growth, as well as the countertop. Ensuring the chicken is thawed by one of the above methods, either in the fridge or sink, will be much safer and quicker.

Read More: How to Cut Tri-Tip Steak Like a Pro

Microwave Thawing

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Some microwaves have settings that allow you to specifically defrost chicken by simply pressing a button. Read your instruction manual to see if your microwave has this setting and note special directions having to do with the amount of chicken and the type of cut.

If you don't have a programmed chicken defrost setting, you can still use your microwave to thaw but it will require some extra attention on your part. Set the microwave to defrost and check every few minutes to see when it is thawed properly. Move the chicken around in the microwave periodically, flipping and repositioning, especially if you don’t have a rotating tray.

Even if you are vigilant, often the thinner parts of the chicken will start to cook a bit while the thicker parts are still thawing, so it’s not an ideal method and may result in some of the chicken being over-cooked and tough. Meat thawed in the microwave should be cooked right away.

Cooking Frozen Chicken

You can cook chicken in its frozen state.  The general rule of thumb is to add another 50% of cooking time from the time suggested in the recipe.  Certain cooking methods, such as braising, or cooking it in the slow cooker, or using the chicken in soups and stews lend themselves better to cooking frozen meat.

Other methods (like sautéing, roasting, or microwaving) may yield slightly uneven results or a less-than ideal texture.  It’s very likely that the outside of the chicken may cook faster than than the inside.

For instance, you won’t be able to get a nice caramelized exterior on a piece of frozen chicken if you sear or sauté it, as the the chicken will slowly release moisture as it thaws while cooking in the pan, preventing browning.  So best to defrost the chicken before cooking it using these methods, and pat it dry.

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