Do I need to thaw meat before cooking?

Reta H. asks: [My daughter-in-law] had a call the other Sunday morn as she was about to fix that Sunday dinner. She wanted to cook a ham but it was frozen? Did it need to be thawed before she cooked it? also, the same thing about chicken while we are asking.

Chef says: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS thaw meats out in the refrigerator. In some ways, the invention of the microwave was an additional downfall to the culinary world. When you try and defrost in the microwave, you’re actually par-cooking the meat, which only leaves with uneven, tough, yucky meat. And, yes, always thaw before cooking. In fact, your ham should be left at room temperature for at least an hour or two (depending on size) BEFORE going in the oven. Taking something from 38º (the proper temperature of your refrigerator) and putting it in a 300º makes it that much harder, and longer time required, to bake off. So, if you start at room temp (around 68º), it will cook much more evenly and be much more tender.

So, next time you have short notice of a meal – either make a meat-free dish or run to the store for some fresh meat! :)

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