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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Bring a bit of French bistro flavor into your own home with Thomas Keller‘s meaty skirt steak blanketed in sweet, rich caramelized shallots for a luxurious bite of beef with every piece. A red wine reduction both underscores the depth of the dish and keeps it from being too much, as does a bit of refreshing, herb-flecked salad on the side. For another impeccable dish from the chef, get Thomas Keller’s Cod Brandade Fritters with Tomato Confit and Fried Sage recipe.
Note: Skirt steak, cut from along the ribs of the animal, is fibrous. When you order it from your butcher, keep in mind that there is an inside skirt steak as well as an outside steak. At Bouchon, they use the outside cut; thicker and more uniform in size, it can stand up to longer cooking, giving you time to baste the meat and flavor it with shallots and thyme.