Magical Defrost Tray

Magical Defrost Tray
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I usually feel pretty good about myself if I manage to plan dinner ahead of time. It makes me believe I'm on top of things and am somewhat organized, but more often than not, I'll get to work only to realize that I forgot to take the meat for my well-planned recipe out of the freezer.

At this point, my only two options would usually be either to pick up take-out or use the defrost option on my microwave, and we all know how well that works. Nine times out of ten the meat is partially cooked and rubbery around the edges, frozen in the middle, and basically totally ruined. Given the choice, take-out seems safer.

Apparently, however, there is another way to avoid disaster by defrosting meat quickly and naturally. What is it exactly? Let's call it the "magical defrost tray."

This nifty little tray uses no electricity or chemicals, and it doesn't require preheating or hot water. It's compact (about the size of a cutting board), made of aluminum, and is easy to clean with soap and hot water. It also stays cool to the touch, which is especially awesome if you have curious children. The best feature, though, is that it defrosts meat up to ten times faster than just letting it sit out at room temperature (which, quite frankly, isn't all that sanitary).

How in the world does it work? Is it magic? I wondered myself because it doesn't really seem possible that this defrost tray could thaw chicken or steak in less than hour. In order to answer that question, we'll have to get a bit scientific.

When you place two objects of very different temperatures in contact with each other, heat transfer begins. In other words, they immediately begin trying to become the same temperature. So, the tray picks up heat from the surrounding air, and the meat picks up heat from the tray. The key is to use materials of high thermal conductivity. Wait, what? To put it more simply, use materials that can transfer heat more quickly. Aluminum has this very handy quality, allowing this tray to thaw meat as efficiently as it does. It's simple and quite brilliant, actually.

I can think of several scenarios in which this tray would be a life-saver. If you're like me and forget to prepare the meat ahead of time, just whip this baby out when you get home. If company shows up unexpectedly and you find yourself digging through your freezer for a last minute feast, at least you won't have to worry about defrosting. I've also found myself in need of this tray when I get home from a trip. After being away, I'll come home to an empty fridge and pantry, a full freezer, and a hungry husband and son wondering what we're doing for supper.

Why not order take-out, you ask? I live in a rural area, and we don't get delivery service, so we're usually cooking! Having this tray would make those days (or any other day, for that matter) so much easier when dinner-time rolls around.