Defrosting food should never get warmer than 40° F before it's cooked, so leaving that hunk of frozen beef on the counter all day may not be the safest idea. Here, the three best ways to thaw things out.
In the Refrigerator
Bottom line: There's no safer way to thaw any type of food, especially meat.
Bear in mind: You need to plan ahead. Allow eight hours of refrigerator time for each pound of meat.
In the Microwave
Bottom line: This method is fast. You can thaw a couple of lamb chops in less than five minutes flat.
Bear in mind: Because the defrost setting on a microwave starts the cooking process (raising temperatures to bacteria-friendly levels), it's essential that you go on to cook the food immediately.
In a Bowl of Water
Bottom line: A gentler, low-tech alternative to the microwave, thawing in water is great for frozen soups and cutlets. Seal the food in a watertight bag and immerse it in a large bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes.
Bear in mind: Don't use this process for more than two hours or you'll risk bacterial growth.