Reader question: Is it safe to thaw meat on the counter?
While one of the great things about Glorious One-Pot Meals is that they accept frozen meats — without thawing — and it doesn’t change the cooking time.
But, of course, there are times when you want to thaw meat before cooking it. I looked to an organization I have followed for almost a decade, STOP Foodborne Illness, for the definitive word on thawing safety. Here’s what they have to say about thawing meat safely:
The refrigerator is the safest place to that meat and poultry because it keeps meat out of the temperature danger zone. This zone, between 40°F and 140°F, creates the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply quickly. That is why we want to keep meat out of this zone whenever possible. If you need to thaw meat quickly, defrost it in the microwave and then cook it immediately. NEVER thaw meat on the counter. It increases the risk of cross-contamination, and puts meat in that danger zone in which bacteria multiplies.
*In the interests of full disclosure, I first met STOP Foodborne Illness after I was infected with listeria during my pregnancy in 2002 and it was reported in the Rocky Mountain News.