A while ago I wrote an article here on Fast Gush about how I started to do a lot of outdoor grilling on my pellet grill. There are some side effects that are showing up now. I have grilled so much that I have a lot of frozen meals in my freezer now.
Time to find an easy way to warm them up on days that I don’t have time to cook.
Among frozen foods, there are many options that cook perfectly in the deep fryer. These include snacks and foods like meatballs, fish sticks, French fries, and mini meatballs. That being said, frozen veggies can be a bit trickier, as they are prone to drying out or getting soggy.
Step one: don’t break the cold chain.
If you buy a frozen meal, as is the case with Irene, we must be aware of the importance of not breaking the cold chain: that is, avoiding a long time from when we take them out of the supermarket freezers until they reach our freezer.
We will also use an insulating thermal bag to transport them that will minimize the difference in temperatures with the outside. Breaking the cold chain can reduce its properties by losing the juice.
On the other hand, we will notice that there has been an intermediate defrosting because when removing the product to consume it, the pieces, for example, green bean pods, are stuck together and surrounded by the frost from the lost juice. In this case, we will be able to continue consuming them, although both their nutritional quality and their texture will not be the same as that guaranteed by the producer when we respect the cold chain, since most of the vitamins will be in the frosted ice.
Step two: do I defrost them first?
If we have conserved them well and respected the cold chain, when we take them out of our freezer to consume them, we will see that the pieces are dry and loose, with no smell or frost surrounding them, a sign that they retain cellular water inside.
From here, we can cook them; Actually, if they have been well frozen by the manufacturer or producer, there is no major difference between cooking them frozen or waiting for them to thaw.
What happens is that in reality, the freezing process is never completely perfect, so there will always be a percentage of tissue breakage due to ice crystal formation, and consequently, during thawing, there may be some loss of water and nutrients, as well as texture.
For this reason, it is advisable to cook meals directly frozen, either in boiling water or steamed or sautéed.
The only exception is if we want to fry it, for example, in the case of potatoes, aubergines, onion rings, artichokes, etc., since then it is recommended to defrost it beforehand and drain it to prevent the oil from leaking out.
In any case, if we prefer, or need, to defrost it beforehand, we will always do it in the refrigerator and without opening the bag so that the process is slow and safe from the point of view of microbial contamination. Then we will open the bag and cook without further delay.
Step three: cook the frozen meals.
If our intention is to boil them, we will wait until the water in the pot is boiling; we will add the salt and pour them directly, keeping the fire at maximum. We will wait for the minutes indicated by the producer on the bag to remove them with a strainer as quickly as possible.
An additional trick to make them crisp and prevent them from being too poached, but at the same time not raw, is to transfer them from the boiling pot to another with ice water and ice cubes.
This way, we will suddenly cut the cooking to the desired point. In any case, it is not advisable to leave them soaking for too long so that they do not release the nutrients into the medium by osmosis.
We will remove them after just a minute, and they will be ready to serve. Another trick, in order to keep them warm, is to add a handful of bicarbonate to the boiling water, although this will eliminate part of the vitamins.
If we steam them, we will ensure that the container is full, and we will leave them at most for about five minutes, with the pot, yes, well covered.
If you want to make them sautéed, we will ensure that the pieces of the meal are cut into small pieces, and we will pour them into a frying pan or a wok without oil so that they lose some water from the surface while we continuously stir them. After one or two minutes of sautéing and evaporation, we can add salt and oil or soy, etc.