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Jul 16, 2008 10:02 PM

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.