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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Lamb is readily available in most supermarkets. The freshest lamb will have soft pink and red flesh with marbling throughout. Avoid anything that looks grey in color.
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Wrap the lamb in it in its original packaging, airtight, with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. From there, you can also place the meat in an airtight freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Chops and loins fare best when wrapped individually.
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Lamb can be defrosted in three ways. As with most meat, refrigeration is the most effective, albeit slowest method. Lamb meat defrosted in the fridge can actually be re-frozen before or after cooking, though there may be a loss of moisture. If you're in a pinch, lamb can be defrosted in the microwave, or placed in a bowl of cold water (which should be replaced every 30 minutes).
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Use to marinate meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables before grilling or roasting. Serve extra on the side.
What to buy: Look for preserved lemons in gourmet grocery stores or online at igourmet.com. If you can’t find them, substitute 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, or you can make your own.