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Bought too much steak... freeze "as is" or cook then freeze?

The local grocery had a great deal on "petite sirloin" pieces (basically little steaks the size of chicken breasts). Bascially - buy one "family" pack, get another free. However I'm single and won't be able to chow them down before the expiration date.

While it's seems a logical thing to simply use some now and put the rest in the freezer, I was wondering if there's an advantage to cooking them up in a recipe and then freezing them? It seems that in general most steaks/beef portions lose a bit of charm once frozen (ice crystals punturing cell walls), and I don't really care wether or not to use them as steaks at a later date. A good stew, chile, meat sauce, burrito filling, etc. would be fine. It was simply a great deal on beef.

If cooking a dish to be frozen, is it better to make something with lots of moisture (stew, meat sauce, etc) to avoid freezer burn? Any good recipe suggestions?

Thanks, Jon

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  1. I always tend to think it's better to freeze then cook, and not the reverse.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      listen to ipse.

      cooking dries, freezing dries.

      freeze then grill or broil when it's time. (with a splash of olive oil)

      1. re: hill food

        Let me add to this.

        I think the only time where cooking then freezing meat is not inferior to freezing then cooking is for things like beef stews.

        If you cook up a big pot of beef stew, freezing it then thawing it probably is not worse then freezing then cooking.

        But for meats cooked with dry heat (e.g. grilled, pan-fried, etc.), it's almost always better to freeze and cook only when ready to eat.

    2. I usually buy at least 6-10 steaks when they are on sale and stick them in the freezer for probably 2-3 months without any problems. I wrap them individually in foil then ziplock bags and have not had any freezer burn. Just make sure to wrap them securely.

      1. Depends on your freezer and containment. The best steaks I've ever had are mail-order and frozen. But I have an upright freezer that goes down to zero degrees. Refrigerator freezers generally don't go as low, so things shouldn't be kept as long.

        So if it's tasty steak, I'd double wrap and keep in a cold freezer up to 6 months, in a fridge freezer 2-3 months. But unless trying to avoid future prep time, I'd just freeze the meat and make the dish as needed. Fresh prepared in my experience is usually better.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mpalmer6c

          oh you can keep them in the freezer - just don't cook 'em first.

        2. And once frozen, do not defrost on the counter - let them defrost slowly in the refrigerator for 24 hours (how long depends on size of steak). Defrosting them slowly will minimize the loss of quality.

          1. this may be heresy to you meat people, but i have put the steak into an italian dressing olive oil dressing, pressed out the air, zip locked, and frozen. thawed in fridge. really good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              Me too. I have yet to meet a meat person who didn't enjoy a steak marinated/frozen in herbed oil. I use oil, crushed garlic, lots of crushed pepper, and rosemary as a freezing medium for strip steaks on sale (4.99 this week). Do it with chicken, too.

              For beef, chicken or pork that's already cooked, I'll decide what its future "sauced" use will be, and freeze it in a wet medium similar to or same as the final dish. Labeled accordingly, ie "chick for enchiladas" or "pork w bbq", since the frozen blocks can be confusingly similar in appearance.

              Chicken for chicken salad gets frozen in pickle juice.

              1. re: alkapal

                I agree wholeheartedly with the recommendation for freezing with oil! I coat with safflower oil, then freeze in a ziploc bag with as much air as possible forced out. I just found a forgotten bag of skinless chicken breasts in the freezer from 7+ months ago that cooked up just fine.

              2. A quick, sort of related tip: once meat is slightly thawed (not really thawed but not rock solid, either), it's so easy to slice into really really thin pieces. Very good to know if you want thin slices for stir-fry or pho...

                1. I would freeze, then cook, but it is important to remove them from the store package and wrap them well. First in plastic wrap, then in heavy duty foil, then into a zip lock freezer bag, and make sure to burp all the air out of the bag before sealing.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    beauty of the olive oil/herbed marinade is that it protects the meat...

                  2. When you cook, then freeze, there's no going back. When you freeze then cook the world is your oyster! '-)

                    1. Don't even THINK of cooking a steak, freezing it and then reheating it. It will be ruined, and you will undoubtedly end up with a gray steak.

                      Wrap well and freeze uncooked, no air pockets is best. Use plastic wrap (lots) and then overwrap with heavy foil or zip loc bags. When you are ready to cook, take them out one day before and defrost in the fridge. They will cook up almost as well as if you never froze them.

                      If you cook first, they will tend to take on what I call "refrigerator taste" -- which to me is the kiss of death. I have the uncanny ability to tell whenever food has been cooked and reheated. It's a curse, and when I find it in a restaurant, I usually don't end up going back. Steaks are terrible items to reheat.

                      1. Freeze, then cook. You will lose flavour, tenderness if you cook, freeze, unthaw, reheat. The first process has a lot less steps think the flavour will remain true to original state with fewer steps.

                        1. The Zip Lock vacuum bags are a God send for freezing. I just cooked some rib eye that was frozen @ 6 months ago and they were perfect. I just processed two whole pork loins for the freezer and they will be good for a long, long time.