As with most meat, the safest way to thaw beef is in the refrigerator. Small cuts of beef can take up to 24 hours, while larger slabs can take a few days. If you’re in a pinch, frozen beef can be thawed in a bowl or container of lukewarm water. Place the bowl or container in the sink and leave under a running faucet. Never allow raw beef to thaw or sit on a counter or cutting board. Since it takes longer to thaw than most meats, it is more susceptible to bacteria growth.
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In order to effectively freeze beef, you’ll want to limit its exposure to air. This not only prevents the production of freezer burn, but also extends its shelf life to three months or longer. The best way to package beef is to wrap it tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap. You should then wrap the meat in a layer of aluminum foil or place it in a plastic bag.
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For ground beef, keep refrigerated and use within one to two days. It can stay in its original container if the packaging hasn’t been opened. Steaks follow the same protocol, but can last a bit longer at three to five days. It’s actually best to allow a little airflow with stored meat, as tightly-adhered plastic like Saran wrap can make meat sweat and, as a result, less tender. Meat can be transferred to plastic containers, but should be covered loosely.
Never refrigerate raw meat if it’s been sitting out beyond two hours.
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Next: How to Pick Ground Beef
How to Pick Ground Beef
The possibilities with ground beef are seemingly endless, though you’ll probably want to pay the most attention to cost and fat content. Naturally, the lower the fat content, the higher the price. A leaner meat; however, may not taste as moist and flavorful, so keep that in mind if you’re making a meal that’s prone to dryness (like meatloaf or hamburgers). Sometimes the extra fat can make or break a dish.
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Next: How to Thaw Ground Beef
How to Thaw Ground Beef
Like other meats, the best way to thaw ground beef is to leave it in the refrigerator. If you’re in a pinch, take out your frozen meat and place it on a plate under running cold water. A microwave may also work, but it is likely to start cooking your meat, which you’ll want to avoid.
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Inspired by The Varsity in Atlanta, this recipes trades in the standard beef for bison (not to be confused with buffalo). Bison is leaner and higher in iron content than beef, but is similar in flavor and texture. To make it into chili, fry onions and garlic with spices like cumin and chili powder, deglaze the pan with beer, add the ground bison and some tomatoes, and simmer for about an hour. Use the chili to smother hot dogs (or bison dogs if you want to go all-out bison), and set up a build-it-yourself hot dog bar of cheese, onion, and pepper toppings for your next party.
Check out our guide to bison to learn all the basics about this game animal, including other sourcing options and recipes.
What to buy: You can purchase ground bison meat at gourmet grocers or online.
This recipe was featured as part of our Game Meat Recipes for the Big Game.