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How to make frozen meat taste amazing every time

Published Oct 3rd, 2020 11:23AM EDT
how to thaw meat
Image: davidchukalexey/Adobe

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  • Defrosting meat can be a seriously hit-or-miss process, but there’s a way you can turn the tide in your favor.
  • A simple ingredient — balsamic vinegar — can change the way your meat thaws, and make it taste much better as a result.
  • You’ll need some time to let the meat thaw, and this tip isn’t usually advised if you’re microwave defrosting or using some other very rapid method. 

We’ve all been there: Your local supermarket has a sale on steaks or chicken breast or some other tasty meat product and you buy way too much to eat within the typical “fridge safe” timeframe of a week or so. You have to resort to the one thing any meat lover dreads… the freezer.

But fear not! The food experts at The Kitchn have blessed us with a tip for making even the most rock-hard frozen meat taste much, much better. It’s a pretty simple trick, but it does require that you’re not rapidly defrosting your ice-cold meat for an emergency dinner or something.

The key to getting defrosted meat to taste like something other than bland, dried-out grossness is an ingredient many people may already have in their cabinet: balsamic vinegar. As The Kitchn explains, the vinegar is to be applied while the meat is defrosting, with roughly one tablespoon required for every pound of meat you’re bringing back from the brink of freezer burn.

The vinegar will slowly soak into the meat and by the time it’s ready for heat, it’ll be much closer to “fresh” than it would be otherwise. However, the most important thing to remember here is that this technique requires slow defrosting, which is what you should be doing anyway. Sticking your meat on the countertop is a bad idea (especially when it comes to bacteria growth), but if you have enough time to defrost your meat in the refrigerator or under cool running water in the sink, this technique is gold.

Defrosting in the microwave to sticking the sealed meat in a large bowl of room-temperature water will defrost it too rapidly and not give the meat enough time to soak up the vinegar. The acidic properties of the vinegar will tenderize the meat gradually and undo some of the damage to its flavor from the freezing process. Once the meat is fully thawed you can toss whatever liquid remains and cook the meat as you normally would without worrying about any super-intense vinegar flavor.

Depending on the meat you’re defrosting, it might end up tasting perfectly fine even without this trick, but it’s a nice culinary tip to have in your back pocket when you reach into the freezer and pull out a steak so hard it could cut glass. So grab that balsamic vinegar and bring your frosty meat back from the brink.