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May 12, 2011 10:17 AM

Ridiculous meat question.

I understand that I'm supposed to thaw meat in the refrigerator (or in a water bath for less time) to slow bacteria growth. If I'm making stock, say, and planning to boil the meat for several hours, is there anything wrong with moving the meat - in this case ham hocks - directly from freezer to pot of boiling water?

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  1. No. Nothing earth shaking. Just keep in mind that the water won't be absorbing maximum flavor from the hocks until they start to defrost. Over a three hour period, give or take, the outcome will be the same.

    1. You won't have food poisoning issues, but the stock won't taste the same or as good, imo, if you start with frozen goods. I don't have a scientific explanation for you (though I'm sure there is one), rather lots of anecdotal data from personal experience when I've tried to make stock in a rush from frozen meat and/or bones. In addition to compromised flavor, the stock will also be cloudier.

      I think it's a good idea to defrost, even in the microwave if you have to, to ensure a good pot of stock. :)

      1. It'll work fine - just remember that the 30 minutes or so it takes for the frozen meat to thaw and heat up don't count as cooking time, even if you start with boiling broth. It takes a long time for the pot to come back up to temperature after you put a big chunk of frozen stuff into it, so you need to add an hour to the cooking time.

        1. When making stock it's important to have a slow initial rise in temperature. I'd start with frozen ham hocks in cold water and slowly bring to a simmer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

          2 Replies
          1. re: andtheodor

            "When making stock it's important to have a slow initial rise in temperature."

            Why is that? Not something I've ever heard.

            1. re: c oliver

              So that the proteins and other impurities have time to solidify and rise to the surface, so they can be skimmed off before they become broken up and suspended in the liquid.
              Not really a big issue with hock stock unless it will be served as a Consommé.

          2. Thanks all, for your speedy answers. You're making me a better cook. -t

            3 Replies
            1. re: THewat

              In general there's nothing wrong with thawing stuff outside the fridge. Exceptions are things like 20lb turkeys which can take a few days to thaw.

                1. re: joonjoon

                  Even a chicken i wouldn't recommend thawing outside the fridge (exception - thawing in cold water in the sink, preferably running).

                  Basically, if it needs more than say 4 hours to thaw, you're best off thawing in the fridge or under cold running water.