There are days when I get home from work where all I want to do is dig into some food as quickly and simply as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, but we all have our ‘meh’ days. On those days I just want all my ingredients at home practically ready to go. Wouldn’t it be great if you came home to find your vegetables freshly chopped?

I’m not much a fan of frozen vegetables for most dishes, but I do recognize the value of frozen meats. When you have some beef tips or chicken breasts in the fridge you’ve got a small window of availability before they begin to spoil; usually within a few days. If you freeze it, however, then your window can range from a few months to even a full year (keep in mind, after a month most begin to slowly degrade in quality). But how to get that meat ready to be cooked and in my stomach as quickly as possible?

Cooking meats before they are fully thawed can be, to quote the Joy of Cooking (also known as my culinary bible), disastrous. Not only do you run the risk supporting the growth of harmful bacteria, you will most likely end up with something that’s cooked on the outside and raw on the inside. Not exactly good eats. If you know your meat’s thaw time in the fridge and you plan ahead, no problem. But stuff happens. You run out the door on your way to work and forget to move something from the freezer to the fridge only to return in the evening, stomach growling, with a frozen block of unhappiness. Sigh…

When this happens, use a technique I picked up from an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats: running cold water. Put your meat in an airtight bag, place that bag in a bowl of cold water, and place that bowl under a small trickle of water in your sink. The trickle ensures the water stays cold (warm water = bacteria fun zone) while not spiking your water bill. This method is safer and faster than on your counter top.

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