How to Quickly and Safely Thaw Anything
It never fails. You are sitting around thinking of what to make for dinner, and you realize that you have the perfect ingredient…sitting in your freezer like a solid iceberg. Nothing feels more wasteful than heading to the grocery store to buy a piece of meat or herbs or fish knowing that you have the exact same thing already at home, just in a bricklike condition. Or worse, you convince yourself you can use that thaw setting on your microwave and turn a perfectly good hunk of protein into a slab that is cooked to rubber on the edges and still frozen in the middle.
Or you are enough of a planner to make soups, stews, chilis or stocks ahead of time and store in plastic bags in the deep freeze, and then don’t remember to take them out the night before you want to use them. We all know the long way to thaw things properly: Take them out of the freezer and transfer to the fridge ahead of time. Overnight is fine for fish, steaks or chops. A day is better for whole chickens or large containers of things. Three days for a Thanksgiving turkey. But what if you need that icebound item today?
You need a cold-water convection thaw. This is not some fancy piece of equipment—it's a technique. If you have a pot and a faucet, you can do it! Whatever you are trying to thaw should be either in a vacuum-sealed package or sealed container. If it isn't, put it into a ziptop bag with as much air squeezed out as possible. Put the frozen thing into a pot big enough to hold it completely, with about an inch of headroom, but use the smallest pot that fits this description. Put it in the sink and be sure it is not blocking the drain. My sink has a grid insert that elevates thigs above the sink base, if yours doesn’t, put it on a rack, like the one you use for cooling baked goods.
Place a bowl or plate on top of the item to keep it submerged if you think it will float. Run the cold water into the pot and once the pot is filled to overflowing, turn the water until it is the barest trickle. Just slightly more than a drip. Leave the cold water trickling into the pot and gently overflowing. This running trickle is all you need to create convection action in the water, which will help thaw your item. Something thin like a chicken breast will thaw in about 20 minutes, a small roast in 30 to 45, a tub of stew or chili might take as much as two hours.
Please note: Don’t think that if cold water does this fast that hot water does it faster! Hot water could actually partially cook your food, but worse, could bring it to an unsafe temperature for bacteria growth. Stick with cold and it'll be thawed in no time, promise.