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Oct 20, 2008 07:35 PM

Defrosting in the Oven

I'm a bachelor and end up freezing meats because I cannot get eat them fast enough on my own. The problem I keep encountering is I get hungry but don't plan my weekly menu accurately, so I don't have the luxury of time to defrost in the fridge. I also would prefer to avoid using my microwave to defrost. I'm about to eat some frozen salmon, should I just defrost it in the oven at 200 degrees and once it melts turn the heat up to 350? I tried cooking frozen salmon on the stovetop but the outside was burning while the core of the salmon remained uncooked. I would appreciate any advice you guys could offer. You can tell that I'm not an experienced cook :-p


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  1. I do, sometimes, take food directly from the freezer to the oven.. But not to defrost it. If I put it into the oven I intend to cook it and I cook it at a very low temperature until it is "done" according to its internal temperature. I cover it tightly and hope for the best. It's not gourmet fare when it comes out of the oven but it is, at least, fit to eat. I don't know why you prefer to avoid your microwave for defrosting. The microwave is perhaps the better method for achieving your goal for a "quick" defrost. You've just got to make sure your oven is preheated and ready for the introduction of the microwave defrosted food.
    If your microwave came with instructions for defrosting, follow them carefully
    Otherwise, here's a helpful link:

    3 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Hi Todao, thanks for the helpful advice. I don't use a microwave cause my family thinks the radiation is not good in the long term. Some questions:

      1. Do you use a food thermometer every time to check internal temperature?
      2. "Cover it tightly"? With aluminum foil?
      3. Why do recipes always recommend the oven be preheated?

      Apologies as I'm a complete newbie. Thanks.

      1. re: hanguolaohu

        Well, I understand that microwave cooking is not fully understood by everyone. The word "radiation" conjures up all kinds of frightening images in peoples minds which, IMHO, is a serious shortcoming in our society where the media assigns more credibility to rumors than it does to the truth. Allow me to recommend Robert Wolke's book, "What Einstein Told His Cook" .
        No need to spend full price; buy it used and enjoy it.
        Wolke's common sense explanation of cooking science is written in a wonderfully humorous way, and I recommend it highly.
        As for how to cover - I generally use aluminum foil or, if I'm using an oven proof vessel that has one, the cover for the vessel. I cover it somewhat tightly but I don't try to hermetically seal it.
        Preheating the oven is important when you're baking because foods (bread, cake, etc.) won't brown properly if placed in an unheated oven to begin the baking process. For roasting or baking a casserole, it's not as critical as long as you don't care whether the outer surfaces of the roasted item develops a nice brown crust or not. Also, when following a recipe, the baking times are based upon oven conditions that are described in the recipe. If the recipe calls for preheating the oven and you start in a cold oven the cooking time will be waaaaay off and the end result will be disappointing.
        Yes, I do use a food thermometer to determine the internal temperature for a large number of the things I cook. I even use it for bread baking. Undercooked foods can be a health hazard, overcooked foods are an insult to the palate.
        If you're shopping for a thermometer, it is my opinion that this is a very good choice:
        If you'd prefer one that is very good but more affordable, I also like this one:
        Please, never apologize for being a "newbie". Many of the contributors to these forums have been cooking for a very long time. I suspect any of them would admit to being a "newbie" and could share stories of unbelievable experiences that seem to them, at this point in their cooking experience, like "no brainers" that they should have been able to handle with much less difficulty.
        I would add that, even today, I learn things I didn't know (or thought I knew but had actually been misinformed) so I stick with these forums as a source of my own education too.
        Welcome to the kitchen. It's a wonderful place to live.

        1. re: todao

          Thank you thank you! I ordered the Wolke book and the CDN thermometer. The Thermapen sounds great but until I cook more I will hold off as I never realized a thermometer could cost $100. I'm sure it's worth it though.

          My family also recommends not using aluminum foil for fear of Alzheimers. You can see that my family is almost neurotic when it comes to health, and luckily we are all pretty healthy.

          This was all very useful information! I appreciate it!


    2. Ooops, got ahead of myself ... almost posted it twice

      1. throw your frozen salmon in a zip lock bag then put it in a sink with running water. It will thaw in about 15-20 minutes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bw2082

          I'll second this for fish, meat or poultry you need to defrost, because it is the fastest, least damaging way to defrost frozen items.
          I tend to stock up on these items and freeze them because we live out in the suburbs and shop once a week. Plus, I do not plan menus in advance as I like to cook whatever I feel like come the day.
          My Smeg oven has a fan setting (at room temperature) to defrost items quicker, but I have noticed that this creates dry spots, rather like wind-burn.
          So, all said and done, in ziploc and in the sink. I do stop the sink though, and replace the water if I feel it getting chilly, which only happens with bigger items.


        2. Do you have granite countertops?

          If so, just take the salmon and place it on a baking sheet and leave it on granite countertop. It'll defrost in about 20 minutes.

          If no granite countertops, then buy a slab of granite to use just for defrosting. Works great.

          Defrosting using a cast-iron pan and skillet is also great.

          1. Most individual portions of uncooked meat can be defrosted in a bowl of cold water in less than 20 minutes. You must use cold water since hot water will raise the external temp and could case bacteria to grow. Cold water works fine. I put the meat in a ziploc bag or wrap tightly in saran wrap prior to dunking in the water so the meat doesn't get waterlogged.

            You preheat ovens so it is up to temperature when you put the food in it rather than having to wait 20 minutes after you put the food in which could ruin certain baked goods and cause overcooking of other food.