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 Corned Beef
How to Store Corned Beef
It’s important to always check the “sell by” date of uncooked corned beef, as it should remain in its pouch with pickling juices. You will generally be able to store it in your refrigerator for five to seven days.
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Next: How to Freeze Corned Beef
How to Freeze Corned Beef
Prolonged freezing will certainly affect the taste and texture of corned beef, but it will still be safe to eat for up to one month. First, drain the brine to rid the meat of its excess salt. Salt encourages texture changes and can increase the rotting process. Next, wrap the meat tightly (a vacuum sealer is preferred) with plastic wrap and ensure that the air content is minimal. Wrap the beef with another layer of plastic wrap and place into the freezer.
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Next: How to Thaw Corned Beef
How to Thaw Corned Beef
There is no need to thaw frozen uncooked corned beef before cooking, as it is typically placed in a slow cooker or a pot of simmering water.
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Aaron Rocchino owns The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, California.
I’m a firm believer that good food takes time, and this corned beef recipe is a demonstration of that. It calls for a 12-day cure, which brings out the best texture and flavor from a piece of grass-fed beef. Sometimes I use brisket, the classic corned beef cut, but it has a lot of interior fat that doesn’t render out in the cooking. It’s good for sandwiches, where it’s sliced thin and you get a little fat and lean in every bite. But for St. Patrick’s Day, when you want to serve slices of corned beef on a plate, I go with the eye of round, a leaner cut from behind the upper leg. If you plan to serve cabbage with your corned beef, poach it in the strained broth after the meat’s done. Same with small, skin-on potatoes, a starchy variety like butterballs or Yukon Golds. Chopped flat-leaf parsley adds a nice green, springy flavor, or mix parsley with grated lemon zest, like a gremolata without garlic. Serve whole-grain mustard on the side. Whatever you do, don’t make it look too fancy—corned beef and cabbage is a rustic dish. Leftovers make great sandwiches. Heat any leftover broth and serve it on the side, French dip–style.
What to buy: I use fine sea salt rather than coarse kosher salt since it measures out more accurately by volume. For the curing salt (essential for preserving the beef’s rosy color) I use Insta Cure No. 1, which is salt with 6 percent sodium nitrite. Buy it online (maybe go in on a bag with friends), or see if you can buy a small amount from your local butcher.