Meat is an expensive part of many meals. One way to reduce the cost is to buy meat in bulk. Purchasing chopped or ground meat and freezing it saves both money and time in cooking, as smaller pieces cook faster and can be added to a meal straight from the freezer.
1. Safe Handling
Chopped or ground meat requires a little more care than a simple steak, as it has a greater surface area for bacteria to live in. When freezing your own meat, ensure that it does not go above 41 degrees Fahrenheit before freezing and only choose the freshest meat. If purchasing already frozen meat and transferring it to your own freezer, ensure that it does not go above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not freeze, thaw and refreeze meat.
2. From Freezer to Pan
Heat a pan on the stove on medium-high heat. Ensure that it is hot by throwing a droplet of water into it before adding the meat -- the droplet should sizzle. If using lean cuts with little to no fat, such as chopped chicken, coat the pan with oil beforehand. Add the meat and evenly spread it around the pan. If using ground meat, break it up into manageable chunks instead of cooking it as one large lump. Cover with a lid to ensure even heating.
3. Checking for Doneness
Cook the meat until all of the pieces are cooked through. There should be no pink remaining, and juices should run clear. If you're not sure, remove a large piece and measure the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Chicken, beef and pork must measure at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is an important step when cooking meat straight from the freezer, as it will cook quickly on the outside but may remain frozen in the middle. Cooking with even heat distribution prevents this from occurring.
When preparing meat for the freezer, ensure that it is packed in sealable bags or containers with all of the air pressed out. This will prevent freezer burn, which can turn the chopped meat into chewy, undesirable bits. Purchase ground chopped meat that has at least a 90/10 ratio of lean meat to fat content to ensure that it does not dry out during the cooking process. This will also retain the moist texture and flavor reminiscent of fresh meat.
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images