It wasn't an option in the poll, but many times I will START the defrosting on the countertop, on the following basis.
Coming out of my freezer (not the freezer compartment of the refrigerator, which is warmer) my meat will be at -10 to -20 degrees.
Putting it on the counter, condensation immediately begins to form on the packaging, in the form of frost on the outside. As long as there is frost on the outside of the package (and starting out at 10-20 below, this will be several hours) the entire package of meat is still solidly frozen and not in the danger zone. When the frost on the outside starts to melt (as it goes above 32 degrees) then it will go into the fridge or microwave to finish.
The other options are leaving it in the refrigerator for 3-5 days depending on the size, or microwaving it. Microwaving when starting out at this temparature usually ends up cooking part of the outside of it while the middle is still frozen.
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