I'm willing to pay the cost to selectively defrost
March 29, 2010 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way I can freeze part of a chicken but not the rest?

I have a frozen chicken breast, but it's not a 0.5-1lb. cut of the sort you get wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. It's more like the whole chicken, except without limbs or a head.

It's too much to eat in one meal, but if I thaw it all, then I've got to use it all in the next couple of days because I hear that refreezing chicken after you defrost it will ruin it.

Given that, is there some trick to just thawing part of it and leaving the rest frozen? Can I do something like defrost it just enough to be able to cut it, chop it into meal-sized parts, then refreeze what I'm not planning to eat that night? Or is partial defrosting enough to ruin it?
posted by ignignokt to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
Cook all of it, make chicken salad or a chicken sandwich out of the leftovers.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:07 PM on March 29, 2010

If you refreeze it the texture will change. It will be edible, but gross. I agree, cook it all and freeze what you do not want to eat.
posted by fifilaru at 8:11 PM on March 29, 2010

Defrost the whole thing, make whatever meal you want, refrigerate what you don't eat, it will be good for three or four days... eat it as leftovers...

next time, freeze it in smaller portions.
posted by HuronBob at 8:12 PM on March 29, 2010

Partial defrosting will- not ruin it, but it will definitely degrade the flavor and the texture of the parts that remain.

But! If you have a very good knife, frozen chicken is actually pretty easy to cut through. In fact, one of the best tips I've ever gotten for sectioning a chicken involves partially freezing it first.

You can split the whole breast down the middle- start at the bottom (or the V shaped end) where the cartilage is. Cut through the cartilage, and then place the blade of your knife on top of the breasts, where the breastbone is.

Use firm, certain downward pressure to break the breast bone, then grasp one side of the breast unit. Now, cut with long strokes, applying pressure toward the neck end to work the knife through the bone as it's thickest at that point.

You can do this with a pretty crappy butcher knife, but a nice butcher knife will glide right through. Then you can put the half you don't want to use back in the freezer for another time.
posted by headspace at 8:15 PM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Use a strong, SERRATED knife to cut down along the side of the breastbone. Don't try to cut the bone itself, but cut through the smaller, rib-bones and flesh along the side of the main breastbone.
It is perfectly possible to cut through a frozen chicken - but you do need a good knife (and use a carving fork to hold it in place, so you don't cut yourself if it slips).
posted by Susurration at 8:34 PM on March 29, 2010

There is another issue with defrosting and re-freezing chicken. Each time you take the chicken through the "danger zone" of between 41 and 140 degrees (F) you are helping Salmonella, Listeria and E.Coli to breed. Then, if you don't quite cook it right, you are endangering anyone who eats it. You are better off splitting it as headspace suggests or cooking all of it. If you cook it all, you can put the unused portion on a baking sheet and put it into the freezer while it is still warm, take it out when it is frozen and wrap it. Take it straight from the freezer to the oven (unwrapped) to re-heat.
posted by Old Geezer at 8:35 PM on March 29, 2010

I'd be careful trying to cut it. A frozen whole breast is roundish and slippery. It's very easy for a knife to slip and then...bad things can happen.

It's easier and safer to cook the entire breast. It only weighs about 3-4 pounds at the most. Easiest to simply defrost it a bit, salt pepper and oil it. Put into a oven proof pan or dish. and stick it in a 375 oven for about 60-70 minutes. Just google 'whole roasted chicken breast' and you will find recipes.

You can then do LOTS of things with the leftovers (again, google cooked chicken meat), some very interesting and tasty things. Those prepared foods can then be frozen in portion sizes. Be creative, it's only a chicken breast, but I would most definitely advise you to stay clear from a knife and a solid chunk of frozen meat, particularly if you are not skilled in the kitchen.
posted by cosmicsister at 9:32 PM on March 29, 2010

Also, it's maybe good to know that while refreezing frozen-and-thawed chicken equals grossness, I've had good luck freezing cooked chicken, usually in the form of chunks of breast meat. You don't want to hold them too long, because they freezerburn sort of quickly, but it'd buy you another two weeks or so.
posted by MeghanC at 9:37 PM on March 29, 2010

Cold cooked chicken is good in the fridge for days. I love me a cold chicken sandwich. If it's still on a substantial part of the carcass (i.e. spine included etc.) you could also use the remains of a meal to make chicken soup.
posted by nanojath at 9:57 PM on March 29, 2010

Chicken's cheap and leftovers can be quite tasty. Defrost it and cook it up into something suitable for leftovers.
posted by wkearney99 at 7:51 AM on March 30, 2010

I've been known to head out to the shop and grab a tenon saw to butcher frozen meat. Might not be up to everyone's sanitation expectations, but does work quite well.
posted by woodjockey at 9:15 AM on March 30, 2010

I tried to cut it, but my serrated knife was not up to it. So, I ended up thawing it all, making some Thai cashew chicken with some, and boiling and making stock with the rest. We'll use the boiled chicken for salad or fry it for fajitas.

Thanks, everyone. This isn't the way I'd hoped to use my meat share chicken, but I'll live.
posted by ignignokt at 7:02 PM on March 30, 2010

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