Preparing a meal from frozen meat requires essential prep work. Unfortunately, not everyone is organized chef with the foresight to complete the necessary steps.
In an ideal world it's best to leave frozen meat in the refrigerator over night in its original plastic. This is a practice recommended by the Department of Agriculture to maintain the juices and to help prevent an increase in bacteria.
Leaving the frozen meat in a bath of 40 degree water is also a solid method to thaw frozen meat. This takes a while and the microwave can be tricky since it can sometimes cook the meat unevenly instead of thawing it.
There is still hope for last-minute chefs! With the help of hot water it can take only 10 minutes to thaw out that frozen steak. This method even maintains the quality of the meat.
According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science immersing steak into a hot water bath can have your meat ready in minutes. Janet S. Eastridge M.D. and Brian C. Bowker worked with over 200 one-inch thick beef strip loin steaks and defrosting the meat in a refrigerator at 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit, a 68 degree circulating water bath and in a 102 degree water bath.
The results showed that the hot bath took 11 minutes to thaw the meat while the steak in the refrigerator took 18-20 hours and the one in the room-temperature water took about 20 minutes.
The water thaw process doesn't even take long enough to increase the risk of bacterial growth and the steaks that thawed the water leak less juice than the refrigerated steaks.
If you're in a bind next time you forget to defrost that steak, just give it a warm bath. The times won't be quite as efficient as the ones recorded in the lab, but it's still a better option than an 18 hour defrost.