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May 28, 2009 08:48 AM

About defrosting

I have a beef brisket which has been in the freezer, and is like a rock. Do I have to defrost it completely before I cook it? Can I just put the frozen slab into the dutch oven and let it defrost and cook at the same time? What is the advantage,if any, of defrosting?
I plan to cook it in beer, onions, and homemade chili sauce (basically tomato sauce, brown sugar and vinegar) if that makes a difference.

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  1. No, you don't have to defrost it completely before you put it into an oven. It will, however, take longer to cook. The advantage to defrosting is that you can brown it (Maillard affect) prior to baking and it cooks faster (and probably more evenly) if it's defrosted.
    If you defrost it, be sure to do it in the refrigerator and not on the countertop.
    If you elect to defrost it in the microwave, be sure to keep the power low and turn it more often than the microwave recommends to prevent uneven defrosting and, as a consquence, dry/overcooked areas in your brisket.

    1. Unless you want to cook it FOREVER, I think you might want to nuke it into a state where you can at least brown it. I am thinking that you are talking about a 4-5 lb "rock"? If I was cooking this from refrigerator, I'd likely be cooking 6-7 hours, covered at a low, low temp...if frozen solid, you are looking at just about double AND you miss out on the opportunity to add all that carmelization appeal to taste and look that comes from browning.

      1. I agree that it's better to defrost it first so you can brown it. If you put it in water (still in its wrapper), it will defrost faster without having to nuke it. Water conducts heat more efficiently than air. Will take just a couple of hours.

        1. Thank you for all the suggestions. I actually got impatient, and started to cook the brisket before I even read your suggestions. I was not able to brown the meat, as you knew I couldn't do, but I did keep it on low heat in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours, and when I went to slice it, it was so tender, it was falling apart. I returned the sliced meat to the gravy, and put it all into the refrigerator for tomorrow night's dinner. I did sneak a taste, and it was really delicious.
          In terms of nuking it first, I have always felt that nuking frozen meat "cooks" it and doesn't just defrost it (even when I use the defrost button), so I am usually loathe to do that. Had I read your responses before I started cooking, I would definitely have put the wrapped brisket under water, to help thaw it a bit. I had completely forgotten about that trick, so thank you, Sallie for reminding me.
          All in all, the meat was cooked through, tender, and delicious, so I guess throwing the frozen brisket in to pot was not too terrible!!!
          Thanks again

          5 Replies
          1. re: bxgirl

            After the fact, but I have put a semi frozen one in a crock pot, a sauce very similar to yours, some onions and let cook. 10 hours on medium high and it was to die for.

            So yes, good job and browning was probably better but I didn't have time, it was still frozen so ... why not? It still was great. Made some quick mashedand spinach potatoes and some fresh roasted brussel sprouts with a balsamic glaze and presto dinner.

            1. re: kchurchill5

              OOOH, I love the idea of roasted balsamic glazed brussel sprouts to go with the brisket. Thanks for solving the "vegetable" problem!!!
              Do you just drizzle balsamic vinegar on the halved (that's how I roast them) sprouts, or do you also add some olive oil?

              1. re: bxgirl

                I just toss in s/p, olive oil and balsamic in a baggie or bowl and then put on a cookie sheet or on foil, parchment, whatever is easy. Nothing else needed. Sometimes I will but in a bowl when serving and add a little melted butter over the top. Some of my friends prefer a little sweet flavor and it seems to work well. Also a drizzle of honey also works really good

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  thanks, kchurchill. Hope I can still get brussel sprouts this time of year, cuase I really want to try your recipe!!!

                  1. re: bxgirl

                    It's simple and good. I love the small ones. I also cut in half. I could eat them all the time!!