Raw or cooked chicken can be stored in a refrigerator for a few days, though it’s important to prevent raw chicken juices from leaking and contaminating other foods. Ensure that chicken remains in its original packaging (which should be vacuum-sealed or tightly-wrapped) until it is ready to be cooked.
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Next: How to Freeze Chicken
While freezing will make your chicken less tender and juicy, it is the perfect way to store the family-sized pack you bought at Costco last weekend. Remove the chicken from its original packaging and rewrap it tightly using aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper. Double wrap if you are planning to store the chicken for more than two months. Ground chicken can last up to three months in the freezer, while chicken pieces can last up to nine.
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Next: How to Thaw Chicken
You should never thaw chicken at room temperature, as it is highly susceptible to bacteria growth. Frozen chicken should either be thawed in the microwave, in the refrigerator, or in cold water (which should be changed every 30 minutes).
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Hams like to sweat, so it’s important to not wrap hams firmly in plastic or foil to allow a level of circulation. For ham slices, take an airtight container and place a paper towel or sheet of wax paper on the bottom. Place the ham into the lined container and top with another paper towel or sheet of wax paper. Swap the papers when damp and the ham will last three to five days.
For whole, bone-in hams, place the entire dish in a ham bag or cover with a thin dish rag. Both should be soaked in water with two tablespoons of white vinegar to preserve freshness, though it’s obviously ideal to cut the ham into smaller pieces and store using the methods above.
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The first thing you need to do is cut your ham into smaller pieces. Breaking down a ham will allow the meat to freeze easier and prevent the production of freezer burn. Place the pieces into a freezer bag and rid the bag of any excess air. Some experts recommend sucking the air out with a straw before sealing. This will ensure that it’s as close to vacuum-packed as possible. Since the ham is cooked, you should consume it within two months of freezing.
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Frozen ham, especially one that’s been cut into smaller pieces, can be easily thawed in the microwave. To speed up the process, the bag of meat can also be placed in a bowl of room-temperature water.
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Pork fares best in the freezer if packaged with freezer-friendly materials like waxed paper, aluminum foil, or heavy-duty plastic bags.
Wrap any meat tightly so that air does not escape and freeze at 0°F. Generally, fresh cuts of pork can last up to six months, while ground pork can last up to three.
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Pork is easiest to thaw when placed in the refrigerator in its original wrapping. Small roasts will take three to five hours per pound, while larger roasts can take up to seven hours per pound. Thawing ground pork depends entirely on the thickness of its packaging.
It is safe to cook frozen or partially-frozen pork, but its cooking time may take 50 percent longer. Frozen pork should not be cooked in a slow cooker.
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Sealed pork products can typically last in the fridge for two to four days, with ground pork having a slightly shorter shelf life at one to three. Ham or other smoked pork products like bacon can be stored for up to a week, though this only applies to products that aren’t vacuum sealed or prepared with preservatives. The latter can obviously last a lot longer.
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Next: How to Store Chicken
This jambalaya recipe is a classic Southern rice dish with chicken, sausage, ham, and spices. With loads of spices and the Southern “holy trinity” of onions, celery, and green bell peppers as its base, this classic Cajun dish is comforting and satisfying. Sautéing sausage and tasso ham together with onions, peppers, and spices starts building the flavor. Then add chicken, tomatoes, chicken stock, and rice and bake in the oven slowly so the bold, smoky flavors meld and the rice forms a crispy layer on the bottom of the pot. This version of jambalaya from San Francisco’s Town Hall restaurant takes a bit of prep, but it’s worth it when you need a filling dish for a crowd.
What to buy: Andouille is a smoked pork sausage that can be found in many gourmet markets or online.
Tasso is cured pork, usually shoulder, that’s rubbed with a mixture of filé (dried, ground sassafras leaves) and other spices, then smoked. It’s a Cajun specialty that adds another layer of flavor to this dish, but if you have a hard time finding it, you can substitute a different variety of smoked ham.
Game plan: The spice mix can be prepared up to 1 week ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The meats and vegetables can be cut up, placed in separate airtight containers, and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day ahead.
Store-bought chicken stock would work fine in this recipe, or you could make your own.
This recipe was featured as part of our Mardi Gras recipe slideshow.