This weekend officially begins the summer cookout season.
In the past, every year on Memorial Weekend we went camping. Naturally, we had to grill hamburgers or it wouldn't be a holiday weekend, right? Or maybe you get together with some friends and have a picnic.
Some of you may remember that I am one of the world's great procrastinators, and I usually forget to take the ground beef out of the freezer ahead of time, whether for picnics or a meal at home. So here I am, with frozen meat at the last minute. What to do?
The usual way to defrost when you don't have time to put it in the fridge overnight, is to put the package under running water, leave it sit on the counter top, or try defrosting in the microwave. My experience with putting anything frozen in the fridge overnight is that it never thaws overnight, but takes a couple of days. Leaving it sit on the counter top until thawed is not safe, and still takes a long time. So I end up trying to defrost in the microwave, which can be tricky. Sometimes the outer edges get cooked before it is thawed and that doesn't work well if you want to form patties or balls.
I was reading a beef council section of the newspaper recently and found a tip on how to thaw ground beef a safe and quick way. You may wonder why I would be reading such a section since I don't raise beef cattle, but they often have good tips and sometimes recipes for using beef. If you would like to see more, check out this website: http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/.
Here are the tips listed in the news article on how to defrost ground beef in the microwave in less than 5 minutes, and you can still form burgers, patties or meatballs this way!
1. Remove a pound of frozen ground beef from packaging and place in a gallon size storage bag.
2. Seal the storage bag leaving a small opening for steam to escape.
3. Heat the bag in the microwave (on a microwave-safe plate) for one minute on high.
4. Flip the bag over.
5. Heat on HIGH for 1 more minute, then wait 1 minute.
6. Remove beef from the microwave and massage the beef for 10 second.s
7. If needed, heat on HIGH for 30 seconds longer, followed by 30 seconds rest. The leaner the ground beef, the less time in the microwave.
The ground beef should not be hot to the touch. You don't want to cook the meat, just thaw it enough to form it into your desired shape.
(From the Iowa Beef Industry Council)
Now I admit I have not tried this yet, but will do so when the need arises.
The best thing to do is form patties or make meat balls as soon as you bring the ground beef home from the store, but we are often in a hurry so just throw the package in the freezer to deal with later. You can also buy already frozen patties, but that is not as frugal, plus the ground beef may not be the best, or you like to add your seasoning and other ingredients before freezing.
Sometimes it is just easier to grab a package of frozen hot dogs and put those on the grill instead!
Have a great holiday weekend, and don't forget to honor the veterans first.
(the Beef Industry Council did not pay me to write this. I discovered this myself.)