How many times have you forgotten take out your meat early enough to let it fully defrost before it’s time to make dinner? Too many to count, right? Well, if steak is on the menu and all you’ve got is a hunk of frozen beef, don’t you dare nuke it. Step away from the microwave and simply start cooking.
We recently came across a video from the ultra-scientific publication Cooks Illustrated about the benefits of cooking frozen meat, so food director Sue Riedl decided to give this method a whirl on a busy weeknight. She bought her steak at the grocery store and used a T-bone, the thickest cut she could find (thick cuts work best!).
Why cook frozen steak?
It’s annoying to wait for meat to come to room temperature, especially if you’re hungry. But frozen steak does more than sate your appetite pronto. It actually delivers a superior result. When you sear a steak in a skillet, you get a nice brown crust. However, when you sear a frozen steak, the layer directly beneath the crust doesn’t start to cook right away, since the interior is still ice cold. This means you avoid the thin layer of tough grey meat that can occur between the seared exterior and the tender interior meat — which can ruin a perfectly good medium-rare filet.
After searing her T-bone, Sue stuck it in the oven to let the interior cook to medium-rare (for about 12 minutes, since her steak was rather thin). When she cut into it, there was no grey layer. Her steak also stayed juicy and she was able to enjoy it soon after getting home from work.
How to cook frozen steak
- Preheat the oven to 275F
- Scrape off any ice that might have formed on your steak to avoid dangerous oil splatters when you sear it
- Sear your steak in a well-oiled skillet, about 90 seconds per side, until nicely browned
- Place on a sheet pan and cook your steak in the oven to your desired level of doneness (if you’re using a meat thermometer, cook until internal temperature hits 125F for medium-rare)
You can cook frozen hamburgers, too
If you decide to throw a last-minute barbecue but only have frozen burgers on hand, don’t sweat it. Simply stick your ice-cold patties on your grill until they’re cooked through, about six to eight minutes per side. Just like with steak, there’s no point bringing them up to room temperature because they taste just as yummy when cooked frozen. Your summer cook-outs may never be the same again.