Cooking meat from frozen

Tips on safe food preparation.

Many countries and cultures eat raw meat (French steak tartare or Japanese sashimi are just two examples) and the rest of the meat that we consume is cooked. So if raw is ok and cooked is ok, then why is there a problem with food that is frozen before cooking?

Well there isn’t a problem provided the meat is free of bacteria. Fresh raw meat is basically sterile and can be eaten raw. However if you leave it around for a while the few bacteria will multiply and eating the meat 48 hours later will make you seriously ill. So, to stop the bacteria from multiplying we freeze the meat.

However the lump of meat will have to spend time cooling from room temperature down to frozen. During that time bacteria will continue to multiply. Now when you take it out of the freezer the meat begins to thaw and the bacteria start multiplying again.

Now to get rid of the bacteria the meat needs to heat up to a temperature of 180f (82C). If you cook a good sized lump of meat from frozen then by the time the centre has reached our magic 180f the outside will be burned and seriously overcooked.

So if you are cooking small thin strips of meat, then they can be cooked from frozen without problems. However larger bits will need to be defrosted fully so that during the cooking process the middle can come to a safe temperature without the outside getting incinerated.

Poultry in particular is singled out as needing extra care because of the relatively high risk of infection with the salmonella bacteria which can be fatal. The good news is that salmonella dies at 180f so thoroughly defrost and cook your chicken well, ensuring every part reaches at least the magic 180f and you will be absolutely safe from salmonella.

Leave a Reply