How to Defrost Chicken and Other Questions for Your Bubbe

The most common questions in the kitchen.

Confidence in the kitchen often develops with tons of practice, and mistakes and lots and lots of time. Some of us gain it earlier than others, some of us have grandmothers or fathers or aunts to call and ask those essential cooking questions, and well, some of us have Google.

So to save you a phone call or a mistake or some Googling, we wanted to compile some of the most common questions we get asked about cooking and the kitchen. These answers are Google and bubbe-approved.


What’s the best way to defrost chicken? 

Oh, this is an important one. The best way to defrost a chicken is to remove it from the freezer and put it in the fridge on a plate to defrost overnight. If the chicken still feels frozen in the morning, put it on a large plate and allow it to fully defrost on the counter for another hour or so.

If you are pressed for time, you can thaw frozen chicken in a bowl of COLD water. That’s right: cold water. Do not thaw chicken in warm water, because it will elevate the internal temperature, bringing it to a temperature that is considered unsafe for consumption. You will want to replace the cold water with more cold water, every 20-30 minutes.

Do not re-freeze raw chicken. Once you have defrosted the chicken, cook it within 1-2 days, and then if you need, you can freeze the cooked chicken. Or, ya know, like eat it.

For other recommendations on safe storage times read this.

How long will chicken soup last in the fridge or freezer?

Chicken soup, and most other soups, will last 3-4 days in the fridge. If you are looking to freeze soup, it can keep for 2-3 months. For other recommendations on safe storage times read this.

What can I use as a replacement for schmaltz?

I don’t totally understand this question, because schmaltz is amazing. But, if you are looking for a replacement, try olive oil.

How much brisket should you buy for a holiday or dinner?

The rule of thumb when buying a brisket or other large cut of meat is 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person depending on what else you might serving for the meal. Keep in mind that the brisket, or roast, will shrink down quite a bit when cooked. So don’t feel concerned if the piece of meat looks quite large.

How do you peel hard-boiled eggs easily?

This is one of those questions that has plagued me time and time again. Answers on this  topic range from “buy a newfangled egg maker like this” to any number of these hacks. But I am going to suggest the method my husband learned from his bubbe. Add eggs to a pot of cold water and make sure they are completely covered. Bring to a boil. Then turn off the burner and allow the eggs to sit covered in the water for 11 minutes.

After 11 minutes, drain the eggs and add cold water and ice.

Susan Barocas, a Washington D.C.-based chef and food writer concurs, adding that you should change the water or keep adding ice until the eggs are completely cool. The shells should easily slip off once you crack them.

How do you get chicken soup to have that rich, yellow-y color?

First of all, the answer is not to use bouillon or chicken soup mix, both of which have tons of extra salt and processed ingredients. This is one of those questions that actually has many answers. My mother-in-law swears by using a yellow turnip. Others recommend leaving the skin on the onion or even adding sweet potato. I like adding  1/2 tsp of turmeric to my chicken soup, since both chicken soup and the spice have anti-inflammatory properties (like, it’s good for your joints).

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