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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A delicious carne asada recipe goes good with any burrito bar, but carne asada is equally good served with nothing more than a cold beer.
What to buy: We like this recipe made with Dos Equis beer, but any brand will work. Just don’t use a really dark beer or an IPA, which will make it bitter.
Game plan: You can make this dish ahead of time and warm it when you are ready to eat. If you decide to do that, cook the meat to medium rare, about 5 minutes per side, and then warm it over medium-low heat with the reduced marinade juices.
This dish was featured as part of our Tailgating Recipes photo gallery.
Read more about grilling.