The big meaty chill
January 16, 2011 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Please share your best recipes that utilize frozen (unthawed) poultry and meat.

I buy a lot of animal foods in bulk because the kind of stuff I prefer (organic, grass-fed, free-range, etc) isn't always available at my local market. This means I have a freezer full of frozen beef, chicken, etc at all times. My fridge doesn't always thaw stuff out in time, or sometimes I forget to pull stuff from the freezer far enough in advance.

I previously shared this slow cooker recipe that uses frozen boneless chicken, and it works so well and is so great when I'm in a pinch and don't have anything thawed out, so I'm wondering if there may be other recipes or methods that would work with other meats or other chicken parts. If the recipe requires me to do something to the meat or chicken before it is frozen (such as cut it in a particular way), that's fine. I am not super experienced with meat cookery, but I'm totally willing and able to make more complicated dishes -- anything, basic or complex, will be great as long as I can take the meat right out of the freezer and not have to thaw it out.

Thanks so much! :)
posted by hansbrough to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I find beef is easier to slice finely when frozen (or semi-frozen). This is great for making pho or stir-fries.
posted by lollusc at 5:31 PM on January 16, 2011

lollusc, do you then just throw the frozen/semi-frozen slices into the dish and let it cook through? Or do you have to slice, then thaw?

I've always been slightly confused by what is safe and what isn't safe in the realm of frozen/thawed/semi-thawed meat...
posted by hansbrough at 5:36 PM on January 16, 2011

Beef that's frozen and sliced thin cooks quickly - you can take it from a frozen state to cooked in minutes (sometimes seconds, depending upon the thickness of the cut). Really, the same goes for chicken and pork.

The only time I'll use frozen meat is when I'm using the slow cooker. I go to A Year of Slow Cooking for ideas.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 5:58 PM on January 16, 2011

I find sausages are easy to cook up from frozen state if you pre-boil them or tear them apart while frying and I love adding them to swiss chard recipes. I find any sausage with fennel seed is especially nice. Saute some garlic, celery and chopped chard stems. Add a couple of bay leafs with a few tinned tomatoes, a pint or so of chicken stock, a coarsely chopped potato and simmer. When the sausage is done, add it to the simmering mixture with some chopped greens of the chard and cover for 5 minutes to wilt the greens.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:12 PM on January 16, 2011

Chicken soup!

First thing in the morning, fill the crockpot with:
3-4 large peeled carrots
3-4 celery stalks
1 turnip
1 large parsnip (peeled)
3-4 plum tomatoes
1 onion sliced
1 onion peeled but whole
1 sweet potato (whole or in pieces)
1-2 marrow bones (frozen is fine)
1 piece of beef flanken or rib (frozen is fine - this is optional but really adds flavor)
1 frozen chicken in quarters or 1/8ths
pepper and salt
fresh dill
fill with water to cover

When you get home at the end of the day, skim the fat off the top and remove the bones and skin and you will have some seriously powerful Jewish penicillin. You can either put cut-up pieces of chicken back into the soup, or coat them with spices and bake for 25 minutes at 350 deg. for an additional entree.
posted by Mchelly at 6:40 PM on January 16, 2011

Some microwaves have a "defrost by weight" setting that works reasonably well; it'll pause once or twice and prompt you to turn the frozen meat over. I program my for half the weight and defrost twice, flipping four times.

If your meat is waterproofed, warm water is great at rapidly and gently defrosting stuff. I freeze raw prawns, and defrost them exposed (or in their sandwich baggies into which I aliquoted them into) in warm tap water (pour off, replace with more tap water once the water gets cold). If it's not waterproofed, stick it in a ziplock bag and seal. You can reuse ziplock bags like this quite a few times, just wash them out.

If your fridge is too cold to defrost stuff, if you put the frozen meat in the morning, by the time you return home from work, what about fridge-defrosting the night before? Yeah, it requires thinking about the next day's dinner the day before, but it works and is supper safe. During the colder months, I have no problems leaving frozen meats on the counter (on a plate) to defrost over the day*. Sometimes, big chunks aren't totally thawed out by the time I'm home. Leave the plastic that you wrapped it in when freezing on during the tabletop thaw. I avoid doing this in the warmer months, though, and never with ground meats any time of the year. Also, maybe your aliquotes are too thick; thinner and spaced out frozen meats will thaw a lot faster than a huge spherical chunk.

*I have never food-poisoned myself doing this. But I'm not immunocompromised, my meat sources (supermarkets/butchers) aren't horrid, and I practice safe food handling when aliquoting my meats (although *every time* I have beef at McDonalds, I get serious... liquid GI problems... in 1-2 hours).
posted by porpoise at 7:20 PM on January 16, 2011

If you cut the slices thin enough, they thaw by the time you have finished cutting! Seriously, for pho or whatever, I am talking about slices you can see through.
posted by lollusc at 7:20 PM on January 16, 2011

Actually, I usually have to put stuff in the fridge to defrost 2-3 days in advance. That's why planning is so hard and annoying! Will it be ready on the second day?! Will it get ready on the first day and turn by the third day??!? etc.

I'm pretty paranoid about the safety aspects and really prefer not to defrost on the counter or with warm water. I don't totally trust the microwave either. I usually just defrost in the fridge and try to make flexible meal plans so I can have meal A on day 1 or have meal B on day 1 and meal A on day 2 or whatever. I'm fairly covered with thawed meat recipes. So really am looking for recipes that work with frozen meat for this Q! :)

Thanks everyone so far. Keep 'em coming!
posted by hansbrough at 7:34 PM on January 16, 2011

I roast frozen boneless chicken thighs in the oven a few times a week. Sometimes I defrost them in the microwave for ten minutes beforehand, just to separate them, but it's not really necessary. I often cook the frozen chicken in the oven an hour before I start making dinner—or earlier in the day if I'm working from home—and then chop and add it to a saffron pilaf or creamy mushroom pasta.

I only realised this was possible about six months ago, and it was life changing.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:58 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is my own chicken pot pie recipe, which constitutes about 30% of my wintertime diet.

In a skillet fry one chopped white or yellow onion in a couple tablespoons of butter. While it cooks add about two servings of frozen chicken and put the lid on. While the chicken and onion fry over medium-low heat, chop up about 5 carrots/parsnips/turnips/potatoes (any combination thereof). Remove the lid, add the root vegetables to the skillet, turn up the heat and pour about half a cup of water over them, stirring as the water cooks off. I like to add some "Better than Bouillon" chicken broth concentrate at this point.

Once the root vegetables are about half-cooked, and the chicken is pretty much cooked through, you can add small amounts of milk and flour until everything starts to stick together. Stir in a dollop of barbecue sauce or a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. You can also add some chopped celery now. Put this mixture in a pie dish and unfold a ready made pie crust on the top. Flute the edges of the crust, draw something neat in the top with a knife to let hot air out, then bake the pie for about twenty minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:08 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I keep chicken breast frozen in the freezer and when I want a curry I just make some rice, break out a jar (or paste, depending) slice up an onion, maybe some tomato or green beans, and add thinly sliced frozen chicken breast.

When a breast is frozen you can cut it so thin (1/16 to 1/8 of an inch) that it cooks in seconds and seems like a lot more meat than it really is. It's a bit easier if you kep it in the fridge for an hour or two first.
posted by furtive at 10:07 PM on January 16, 2011

I learnt on Metafilter just a month or two ago that you can fry/grill burger patties from frozen. This was life changing, and I've often wondered what else I could cook from frozen - thank you for asking this question!!
posted by shazzam! at 3:11 AM on January 17, 2011

Just yesterday I threw a solidly frozen chuck roast in the crock pot with a can of beef broth and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Cooked it on high for 8 hours and it was great.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 6:57 AM on January 17, 2011

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