I know that picture has nothing to do with meat or cooking, but it does show what freezing looks like 🙂 That was our Mickey head antenna topper last year during the ice storm.
The forecast is for snow here. I’m writing this post a few days early, so by the time you read this we could have several inches of snow. My kids have their fingers crossed!
Now, onto cooking. One of the questions I get asked often is how I cook meat for freezing. I use a lot of chicken and I like to cook it up and keep it in the freezer for casseroles and soups. It really speeds things up when I pull fully cooked chicken from the freezer.
Here’s how I do mine. I usually cook boneless chicken breasts that come frozen in large bags. I’m in the habit of buying those, so that’s what I use. I put the chicken, still frozen in a casserole dish, cover it tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Sometimes I put a little water on the chicken before covering it with foil.
I do the same thing with chicken that has bones. Usually, I buy that fresh and cook it right away instead of freezing it first. You can use a whole chicken or just chicken pieces.
Once it’s cooked, pull it apart with a fork. Cool it a bit and freeze it in ziplock bags in 2-3 cup quantities.
For ground meat, like hamburger or sausage, I brown it on the stove top. Rinse it under very hot water to remove the grease. Freeze in ziplock bags. Sometimes I brown diced onion with it.
Here are a few great tutorials from around the blogosphere:
Tami’s Tips and Tricks – Cooking a lot of ground beef at once for the freezer
The Happy Housewife – Cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot
This is Reverb – Bacon – cooking, storing, eating and a fantastic salad recipe
I do this quite regularly too. If not I find that it takes much longer to get a meal on the table. Good advice and a great habit to get into.
My favorite thing that I have learned here is your method of cooking chicken. I had tried poaching and baking it uncovered, but it came out dry or tough. I like to add water and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Thanks!!
I find that freezing cooked chicken makes it come out tough, chewey and not very flavorable so I have stuck to ground meat only. Do you find this or am I doing it wrong??
Bobbie, I haven’t had a problem with it being tough or chewy. The flavor is better if you cook chicken with bones, but it works fine for boneless too. Probably because it always goes into a soup or casserole.
Susie D. says
I cook my chicken breasts in the crockpot, then shred and freeze. I usually don’t precook my ground beef because I like making meatloaf/balls sometimes, so I just separate it into 1 pound chunks and put them in individual freezer bags and flatten it out, for easy storing and quick thawing overnight in the fridge.
Crystal & Co says
I too love to cook a whole chicken in the crockpot all day long (just salt, pepper, garlic and any other seasonings you like on the chicken, then cover in water). Then debone and shred with a fork, like you said, and bag it up for the freezer in individual zippy bags. It is such a lifesaver. And, the chicken is so tender and moist. Never dry.