11/04/2011 09:23 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Defrost Meat

There are three basic methods to defrost meat, says Chef Brannon Soileau of The Culinary Institute of America. The first method is the microwave, which he doesn't recommend because it can heat the meat unevenly. If you're going to use this method, he advises using a rotating plate and checking the food often. Also, if you use this method, you need to cook the meat immediately after defrosting.

The second way to defrost meat is by using running water. To defrost this way, be certain your meat is tightly wrapped in plastic, then place it in a container with holes (a colander works well) and run a stream of water (70 degrees F or colder) over the meat. You don't want the water to pool around the meat or to allow it to touch the meat inside the plastic.

The third -- and safest -- way to defrost meat is to pull it out of the freezer a few days in advance and put it on the lowest shelf of your refrigerator.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Brannon Soileau from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to thaw meat.

There are three basic ways to thaw meat.

The first way everybody's familiar with: defrost it in the microwave. You know, that magic button. It's not my favorite way, but if you're going to use that way, make sure the plate revolves around, and make sure to check your product so the edges don't cook on you. And if you're going to use the microwave to defrost, you need to cook your meat immediately after you defrost it.

The second way to thaw meat is this. First, make sure the product is covered in plastic - never with the meat bare, it's going to ruin the texture and flavor. Then you want to put it in a vessel, some type of container, that has holes in it: a colander works well. You want seventy-degree water (or less) to run over the product continuously. The reason for the holes is so the water doesn't sit and pool around the product. Then store it in the fridge until you're ready to prepare it.

The third way is the best way of all. You have to have good mental preparation for the third way. You pull your meat from the freezer a day or two prior to needing it, you put it on the lowest level of your refrigerator in a shallow container, and you thaw it out in that manner. That is the safest and the best way to thaw meats.

For any of these three methods, always keep the meat wrapped.