Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cooking Frozen Beef

I rarely get on my soapbox because most people just won't take time to read more than a couple paragraphs of whining...but there is a topic that I cannot go another day without discussing...Cooking Prime Cuts of beef on the Grill 'FROZEN.' For purposes of this blog entry let’s forget about Turkeys and go right to the‘meat’ of the matter, is it a good idea to
  • Grill your $25-$30/Lb Steaks frozen?
  • Is it simply a matter of time, taste or planning?
  • Are there advantages or disadvantages?
  • Does it work? and, 
  • Will it harm me?
Let’s take a very non-scientific look at this practice.
I have a great friend that advocates cooking his steaks right out of the freezer. Personally I cringe every time I hear him tell someone. It is so polar opposite of my Thaw, Rub/Marinate, Sear, Flip, Sear, Rest and Return for Finish method (TRMSFSRRF?) I just can’t imagine doing this to high end beef; not with my wallet anyway.
So I recently asked for comments/opinions on a popular forum and there was not a real clear conclusion and not one offered any science; so I went to the Internet and came up with very little as well. However I think MOST agreed that for a prime steak start they would prefer to start with fresh or thawed aged prime. Now in all fairness to the practice you CAN do it and NO it will not hurt you IF you monitor the internal temperatures properly.

The real question is WHY? Why would ANYONE capable or willing to spend $25 or $30 a Pound for prime cuts of beef EVER consider cooking it frozen? From this authors perspective you’re just ruining the opportunity for one of the truly great culinary experiences, the perfectly seasoned and prepared prime grilled steak.

It's really a question of taste, or lack thereof and since it's not going to hurtyou I believe that there are some undesirable effects from my perspective.
  • If you cook this way you are probably one of those guys or gals that CUT INTO the meat to take a peek as well, letting out all the juices and STILL not understanding the temperature in the middle is potentially MUCH LOWER even though it 'Looks' rare.
  • It takes longer to cook
  • It is very difficult to get your internal temperatures right before you overcook the exterior; in fact it requires monitoring that you wouldn't normally do for a nice steak.
  • Cooking frozen releases a LOT of unnecessary juices (the excess evaporating water) that is undesirable and unnecessary.
It doesn't take ANY effort at all to thaw a steak, even one that is 1.5” thick…and there are MANY methods to expedite this process if you can’t wait. If you want to cook a butt for 16 hours from frozen, go for it, but never a prime cut of steak.
Is there any science associated with this practice? Does it really matter? Some conventional Internet wisdom appears to agree on one consistent comment and that is that this practice will often “result in the meat being tougher than it would be otherwise." Letting a prime cut rest during the cooking process allows the fibers to relax (now this IS real science) before going back on the heat (the resting option isn't really a viable option with frozen).

Final thoughts: I guess I’m a Dave Thomas (Wendy’s) kind of guy; he preached using fresh never frozen and I advocate fresh and if frozen, LET IT THAW!!!! So, if you’re in that much of a hurry pack up your prime cuts and send them to me and I’ll replace them with a cheaper middle cut of meat and send you come coupons for a local fast food restaurant, LOL. And if you insist on cooking it frozen at least give it a proper burial; buy some buns and grind it up into burgers so you can eat on the run as you are clearly in a hurry to be somewhere else besides sitting at the dinner table enjoying the TOTAL experience of a well prepared prime piece of beef. Just my two cents! Keep On Eggin'