© Quentin BaconI like to figure out recipe shortcuts, but sometimes my so-called shortcuts backfire. Case in point: I needed to defrost a whole, cut-up chicken so I could grill it for a picnic on the beach. My go-to recipe (at left) involves brining the meat overnight, so I thought, Why don't I just defrost the chicken in the brine and save a step? Wrong. When I uncovered the chicken on Sunday afternoon, with the grill ready to go, it was still a semi-solid frozen mass. The lessons learned: Always thaw chicken before brining, and if you're trying something new, don't assume it's working without checking along the way.