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4 Foods You Can Cook Straight Out Of The Freezer

If there just isn't time to thaw these dinner staples first, you can just cook them frozen with delicious results. Here's how.

By Lynn Andriani

  • Fish
    <b>Why it's worth trying:</b> Since salmon, tilapia, cod and other fish cook so quickly normally, the few extra minutes you n
    Paul Delmont
    Why it's worth trying: Since salmon, tilapia, cod and other fish cook so quickly normally, the few extra minutes you need to add to the cooking time with frozen will hardly set you back. Chefs say there's no need to thaw fillets first, whether you plan to broil, poach, roast, grill, sauté/pan-sear or steam them.

    What you need to know: For every method (aside from poaching or steaming), the first thing they advise is to rinse the seafood under cold water to remove any ice glaze and pat it dry with a paper towel. To broil, brush both sides with vegetable oil, lightly grease a foil-lined sheet, place the fish on it and cook at 450° for 12 to 15 minutes (which is only 7 to 10 minutes longer than you would if the fish had been thawed first). To sauté, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, brush both sides of the fish with oil, place in pan (skin side up), and cook, uncovered, 3 to 4 minutes, until browned. Turn the fish over and add any seasonings, such as herbs or lemon slices, cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium, cooking an additional 6 to 8 minutes. It's done when it's opaque throughout. (WildAlaskaSeafood.com has helpful directions on other methods.)
  • Chicken
    <b>Why it's worth trying:</b> There are many ways to <a href="http://www.oprah.com/own-show/The-Safest-Fastest-Way-to-Eat-Chi
    Paul Delmont
    Why it's worth trying: There are many ways to defrost frozen poultry, but cooking this popular weeknight main frozen is perfectly acceptable from a safety standpoint, according to the USDA.

    What you need to know: The USDA advises factoring in approximately 50 percent more cooking time than the recipe normally recommends, so if the directions say 40 minutes, it'll probably need an hour to hit 165° internally, i.e., fully cooked. From a taste perspective, know that you'll get the best, most even results if you bake the chicken instead of grilling, sautéing or microwaving it.
  • Beef
    <b>Why it's worth trying:</b> A sale on strip loin can be a wonderful thing, since <a href="http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/ch
    Paul Delmont
    Why it's worth trying: A sale on strip loin can be a wonderful thing, since steak keeps well in the freezer.

    What you need to know: Not only is it okay to cook steak frozen, doing so can actually result in juicier, better-tasting meat, when you compare it to meat that you've thawed first and then cooked. This fascinating America's Test Kitchen video shows how cooked-from-frozen steaks lose less moisture than cooked-from-thawed steaks. Steaks will take a little longer to get to medium rare (after a quick sear on the stovetop, they need 18 to 20 minutes in a 275° oven, versus 10 to 20 for nonfrozen ones). And to avoid splattering and flare-ups, be sure there are no ice crystals on the steak before you sear it.
  • Vegetables
    <b>Why it's worth trying:</b> Like steak, peas, carrots and other veggies also taste better when you cook them frozen instead
    Paul Delmont
    Why it's worth trying: Like steak, peas, carrots and other veggies also taste better when you cook them frozen instead of thawing them first. That's because water makes up over 90 percent of the weight of most vegetables, so freezing the veggies means you're also freezing the water contained on the plants' cells. When thawed, the frozen water expands and breaks the cell walls, so the vegetable's texture becomes much softer (or just plain mushy). To combat this, cook the vegetables frozen.

    What you need to know: Most frozen vegetables you buy in grocery stores are in small enough pieces that won't take long to cook, so add them to dishes such as casseroles, stir-fries, frittatas or soups near the end of the total cooking time. One more thing to note: Starchy vegetables, including peas, corn and lima beans, are more likely to retain their texture and structure once cooked than less starchy ones, such as cauliflower and mushrooms.

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BEFORE YOU GO

  • The Garden Celebration On A Platter
    If we had to pick the most-loved summer vegetables, they'd probably be the ones that chef Katie Hagan-Whelchel of <a href="ht
    Lynn Andriani
    If we had to pick the most-loved summer vegetables, they'd probably be the ones that chef Katie Hagan-Whelchel of Ad Hoc (one of Thomas Keller's restaurants in Yountville, CA), packs into this stunning yet simple salad. She layers tomato slices, peeled cucumber slices and grilled corn kernels that have all been seasoned liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper on a big plate, and scatters sliced red onion and basil leaves on top. Be sure to make it ahead of time for the best flavor.

    Get the recipe: Tomato Salad
  • The Totally Weird And Delicious Way to Eat Warm (Yes, Warm) Watermelon
    We had never considered eating watermelon at any temperature other than ice cold until we tried this untraditional salad; now
    Jim Franco
    We had never considered eating watermelon at any temperature other than ice cold until we tried this untraditional salad; now, we're hooked. You puree the melon into a juice, and then warm it in a saucepan with onion, olive oil and vinegar. As it simmers, it thickens slightly and turns into a delightful dressing for chunks of (cold) watermelon piled with arugula, almonds and sliced scallions.

    Get the recipe: Watermelon, Arugula and Toasted Almond Salad
  • A Beloved Green-Bean Dish With A Seasonal Makeover
    This bright and fresh-tasting side takes the best elements of a classic green-bean casserole and gives them a summer update.
    Lucy Schaeffer
    This bright and fresh-tasting side takes the best elements of a classic green-bean casserole and gives them a summer update. You quickly cook the beans in a small amount of water, and then finish them in olive oil, so they're crisp-tender with a slight char. Fried shallots stand in for canned, fried onions and crumbled Pecorino cheese takes the place of a heavy mushroom sauce.

    Get the recipe: String Beans with Fried Shallots, Pecorino and Basil
  • The Classic Italian Snack You Didn't Know You Could Make At Home
    You can buy jarred roasted peppers, but making your own is simple, and the results taste worlds better than any store-bought
    Ann Stratton
    You can buy jarred roasted peppers, but making your own is simple, and the results taste worlds better than any store-bought version. This recipe has you grill the peppers (they're practically impossible to overcook, since you want them charred on all sides), place them in a bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Once the vegetables have cooled, the blackened skin will peel right off. Toss them with oil, salt, pepper and bay leaves and let everything sit for an hour, and you'll wind up with sweet, smoky peppers that are a great accompaniment to grilled meats and nearly any Italian dish.

    Get the recipe: Grilled Peppers with Bay Leaves
  • Grilled Corn You Can Take In Any Direction
    Corn on the cob may not be the most substantial side, but it's a breeze turning it into one. This basic recipe has many varia
    Andrew Purcell
    Corn on the cob may not be the most substantial side, but it's a breeze turning it into one. This basic recipe has many variations; we particularly love the Mexican spin, which entails a cumin mayonnaise, crumbled Cotija cheese and chopped cilantro; and, the Italian option, with grated Parmesan, minced garlic and chopped parsley. They both highlight the beloved summer vegetable in a brand new way.

    Get the recipe: Grilled Corn with Toppings
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