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Expedite thawing?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by ajjf, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. ajjf

    ajjf Newbie

    Tomorrow I'd like to smoke either baby back ribs or some pulled pork, but everything I have is frozen.  What's the best way to expedite the thaw so I can start smoking tomorrow morning?
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If the meat is in the heavier cryovac packages, you can run cold water over it in the sink. Or place it in a deep/large enough container to submerge it in water and just let it set for 15 minutes at a time between stirring the water by hand to speed things up. In either case, you need to be around to check on the progress and be sure it nothing goes south on you.

    If it's fresh meat (in a styrofoam tray with plastic wrap), I wouldn't recommend wet thawing, as the risk of getting water into the packaging is pretty high. Fridge thawing is the only safe way to go for fresh/frozen in my books. Bad news on this method is it can take a week for a large pork butt, and 24-36 hours for pork ribs.

    Good luck, and great smokes!

  3. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    I would just leave them frozen and get some fresh ones for tomorrow. I always like to thaw out in the fridge myself.
  4. ajjf

    ajjf Newbie

    Thanks!  The Ribs are Cryovac packed and the Butt is wrapped in butcher paper.  I'll just stick the butt in the fridge for later on in the week and start thawing the ribs tonight.  

    NE Wyoming?  Does the Arrow Restaurant in Sundance still have the best prime-rib on the planet?

    Where I'm located I can only get frozen ribs.   :(  I have to call well in advance to get them fresh.
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Man that bites if you can't get any thawed ribs in your neck of the woods. Now at least it's better then the guy in the UK that couldn't get any till February
  6. yrrndsmoker

    yrrndsmoker Smoke Blower

  7. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yea, you can get a partial thaw (or complete, if you like) in water tonight, pop 'em in the fridge 'til a couple hours before you're going to drop 'em in the smoker and finish the thaw in water again as needed...I've done that quite a few times already. And, BB's don't have a real heavy cross-section, so thaw time won't be as long as spares or loin backs. You'll be in smoke heaven in the morning, no problem. Come to think of it, if you're using a low or no-salt dry rub, you could thaw and rub tonight, wrap in poly and rest overnight in the fridge, then come morning, just fire away with the smoke. I say low/no-salt, as excessive salt exposure tends to draw alot of moisture form the meat and can really change your finished product if you're not prepared for this condition.

    You know, I've never taken the oportunity to stop in Sundance, as it's just about a 90 minute drive from my house, and I'm usually on a road trip back to my home stomping grounds when I do drive through the area. With your mention of Prime Rib though, well, I think a stop for the sake of a taste would be a great idea!

    Anyway, have a great smoke!

  8. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Has anyone ever used a thick piece of aluminum as a temp transfer material? Seems to me like you could set the meat, still wrapped on it and then alternate on and off letting the piece of alluminum return to room temp in between.
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I understand the concept behind this, though I do see some problems with it. The meat would need to be perfectly flat in order to have full surface contact on each side alternately to be effective. Also, I don't like the possible safety issues. It's almost the same as putting meat into the microwave to thaw...even on low power, you are intermittently cooking the meat...yes, it's a low rate of energy transfer, but the meat temp is being raised well above freezing, and then, that thermal energy is transfered to the meat adjacent to that which was warmed. Knowing this, I won't use low and slow cooking methods with nuke-box thawed meats. The 40-140* / 4-hr rule starts when you begin the thaw in this case, IMHO. It's fridge thaw or a quick water thaw for me, or else it gets grilled instead of smoked, if I'm doing the cooking.

    I don't even like the idea of counter-top thawing at room temp anymore...not even when covered with towels, and I used to be the guy who'd toss a 4-5lb pack of meat on the counter-top (without even a towel to cover it) and walk away for 3 or 4 hours, not even thinking twice about what the possible consequences may be...never again.

    I have actually used a four-part thaw process on really large cuts, like the 22lb 7-bone whole beef rib I smoked a few weeks ago, for example. This involved removing the frozen meat from my -20* freezer and placing into a 20-25* fridge for several days. This first step just allows the meat to gain some temperature, and loose some of the chill from the freezer. Then, I gave it a 3-hour cold water bath (cry-vac packaging) to bring the internal temp up closer to actual thawing temp, and placed it in a 34-36* fridge overnight. Final thawing before the smoke was with another shorter water bath. Using this or similar methods will keep the surface of the meat in a frozen or near frozen state for the longest period of time prior to smoking/cooking, and keeping the temp below 40* which is the max recommended storage temp for raw meats. IMO, by doing so, you will be reducing the risk of bacterial colonization during prep and the first stage of cooking (40-140* surface temp for un-punctured whole muscle meats).

    I know we talk alot about safe cooking temps and safe times in which to reach these temps. Not alot of discussion goes into safe thawing practices, and what are recognized as being acceptable/safe methods, so it's a very good thing to ask about any thawing methods you think of. You've now sparked my interest in finding out more details on thawing...I now have a research project [​IMG]

    Last edited: Oct 9, 2010
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks Meateater,

    I thought I was the only one who thought that way.

    Why bother even straining the brain on how to thaw in a hurry.
  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    OK, I found this after a few trips between web browsers (too many posts to check out here, while I was trying to find this)...info straight from USDA Food Safety fact sheet page:


    Just look for the sub-topic in the center of the page called "Safe Thawing" and click on it. That will do a rapid scroll down to the pertanent info. It's pretty much a cut and dried subject with little room for grey areas.