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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Cooking a perfect steak is easier than it seems. All you need is a sturdy pan, salt, pepper, olive oil, and a solid cooking technique. For this pan-seared method, start by letting the steak sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so it comes up to room temp and will cook evenly. Then, just sprinkle on salt and pepper, rub on some oil, and get your pan really hot. Lay the steak in the pan and don’t mess with it until it’s ready to turn. In about 8 minutes, you’ll have a perfectly cooked steak to serve with a potato gratin.
Game plan: This recipe cooks the steak to medium rare. If you prefer your steak rare, cook it about 1 minute less on each side or until an instant-read thermometer reads 120°F to 125°F. For medium or well done, cook the steak 1 to 2 minutes longer or until an instant-read thermometer reads 130°F to 135°F, or 135°F and above, respectively.
For more, see Chowhound’s guide on How to Pan Fry Steak.