Thinking and writing about food. Not always in that order.

Something useful: A hot water bath for thawing meat.

In Helpful, Things I like on August 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

When we decided to give up our microwave after renovating our kitchen, a regular visitor to our home described it as “weird.” I don’t know what she’s talking about, but that’s another story. As far as I’m concerned, a microwave has the aesthetic appeal of a fax machine in the kitchen and contributes just as much to the cooking process.

We’ve lived without a microwave for well over a year and don’t miss it. Not the lingering smell of popcorn gone nuclear. Not the delicious chemicals that leach from microwaving plastic containers. Not the excitement of watching a bowl of pea soup explode all over the inside of the microwave yet somehow still remain cold.

Plus since getting rid of the microwave, I experience much less interference with the radio transmitter that I’m certain Dick Cheney implanted in my skull back in 2006.

Probably the only time I have missed owning a microwave is when I have to thaw meat in a hurry. Since about 90% of the meat we eat arrives frozen in our Stillman’s meat CSA, that’s fairly often. Our Stillman’s meat is sealed in plastic portions of about one pound, so I usually just leave a packages in the fridge overnight and it’s ready to cook by dinner time. Except when I forget.

Overnight in the fridge is pretty much the only safe way I know to thaw meat.

But I recently discovered that generally smart food nerd Harold McGee has another option.

Referencing research partially sponsored by the FDA, McGee discusses quick-thawing meat (sealed in plastic wrap) in a hot water bath. At about 102°, a one pound steak thaws in 11 minutes. Push the heat up to 14o° and they thaw a little quicker. Chicken breasts a half-inch thick thaw in 3 minutes; one inch thick breasts thaw in nine minutes. This method only works for relatively thin cuts of meat. Thicker meats start to grow bacteria on the outside by the time the inside thaws.

Here’s a link to McGee’s entire New York Times article.

It’s never be easier to join us microwave-free weirdos. Or to make a place in the kitchen for that fax machine you’ve wanted since 1985.

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