Pat Kerr of Roxborough asks :-
What is the best way to thaw a frozen chicken quickly?
Phil Bremer a Food Scientist at the University of Otago responded.
The first part of your question is easy to answer, it is the final word "quickly" which poses a challenge.
The best way to thaw a frozen chicken is in the fridge at a temperature below 4 degrees Celsius as this will discourage the growth of most harmful bacteria. The chicken should be kept wrapped and placed on a tray to catch the drippings that invariably escape. As an additional safe guard I recommend using the lowest shelf in the fridge. Thawing will take about 10 hours per Kg.
A faster way is water thawing. As thawing under running cold water is not very environmentally sustainable it should be carried out in a sink or tub of water. The key is to change the water every half hour to ensure it does not heat up. The chicken must be kept wrapped and obviously the sink is out of action for a while and will require a careful clean up when finished. Thawing will take about 1.5 h per Kg. Please resist the temptation to use warm water, since, while thawing will be faster, the bacteria will also grow faster.
Thawing chicken in a microwave is a quick method, but it does have its challenges and many food scientists discourage this method. The problem is in determining the proper defrosting time, as this will vary between microwaves and with the weight of the chicken. Too long a time will overheat the chicken and adversely affect its safety, as well as making the meat rubbery and dry. If you do use a microwave, the chicken should be loosely wrapped, placed on a tray, and checked and turned frequently. Also as the chicken will become warm I strongly recommend that it is cooked immediately after it is thawed.