Fresh brisket will be fine in your fridge for up to five days. Just be sure to keep the meat in its original packaging prior to cooking or freezing.
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Next: How to Freeze Brisket
To extend brisket's shelf life for up to 12 months, simply overwrap the meat (original packaging still intact) with aluminum foil and place in the freezer. It is also advised to place the brisket in a heavy-duty freezer bag to avoid freezer burn.
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Next: How to Thaw Brisket
Leave the meat in the fridge and allow one day of thawing time for every four pounds. Placing a frozen brisket in a slow cooker is fine, but be sure to add a liquid like beef or vegetable broth to speed up the defrosting process.
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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 Store Brisket
This classic Chinese dish braises beef brisket with ginger, star anise, garlic, and chu hou, a paste made of soybeans. First you’ll blanch the meat so that it doesn’t cause the braising broth to become cloudy, then you’ll fry fragrant ginger and garlic together, add the meat, broth, and seasonings, and braise until the beef is tender. Daikon radish is the traditional vegetable used in this dish, but turnips work just as well. They’re added at the end so they don’t turn to mush. Serve this brothy stew over steamed rice or cooked rice noodles.
What to buy: Chu hou paste is a sauce made from soybeans, and often includes sesame and garlic. It has a slightly sweet, anise-y flavor. It can be found in the condiment and sauce aisle at Asian grocery stores.
Game plan: This stew can also be made in a slow cooker. Prepare the recipe through step 2, then transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Cook on low until the meat is tender, about 6 hours. Add the turnips or daikon and continue to cook on low until tender, about 1 hour longer. Stir in the scallions just before serving.
This was featured as one of our recipes to Turn Boring Winter Produce into Inspired Dishes.