I do it this way all the time, and yes, I am being VERY specific with my phrasing. Like anything on the internet, it is always At Your Own Risk... on the other hand, there's a big silver pan of water thawing out my lunch right now.
If you are running late and have a Steak, Chicken Parts, Pork Chops, and need to defrost them for the grill, here is a simple way to do it. Usually for steaks or a package of hot dogs, it will take about an hour and you're ready for the grill.
Obviously you don't want to do this if you are planning on letting it sit around.
It also does not work as well with larger meats such as a whole chicken or a large roast but it will help speed things up some.
First you will need a large bowl or clean your sink out of dishes and left over "stuff". I usually scour mine until the Stainless Steel shines with soap and a scrubby pad. The volume of the bowl should be large enough that you can fit the meat in the bowl with no piece of meat covering any other and no meat should be exposed to the air by hanging over the edges.
Second you will need your meat. I'll let you choose what kind you will be using. The meat should be either cutlets, or individual steaks, or parts, chops ... that sort of thing. In the case of what is working for me now are individual steaks that are wrapped. They're going on the grill for lunch.
Third you need plastic bags. Paper will not work. These should be ideally water tight however a little leakage won't really be a harm. The bags should be large enough to fit one of the pieces of meat in it without rolling it up. The idea is to get as much surface area in contact with the plastic bags. You can put more than one piece in a bag, but make sure they can lay flat inside and are not piled up on top of each other. It's that surface area thing.
Now, take the meat and insert it into the bags. Tie the bag so that they're closed up. If the meats are already sealed inside of their own pre-fab vacuum packaging, they are already sealed and it works this way as well.
Fill the bowl or sink with water. It should be enough for you to submerge the bag in the water. It doesn't have to be filled and I always use cool water. If the water is hot, you are risking bacterial growth.
Next, submerge the bag in the water. Saw that coming huh?
If the bags float you probably have too much air in the bags, so let the air out.
That's pretty much it. You may want to set a timer. Check it in 15-30 minutes, and if they're properly thawed you can just put the meat in the refrigerator until you are ready. Today, I had two 5 ounce steaks in about 1/2 gallon of water. The steaks were frozen at 0F. It took 15 minutes to come up to "thawed" temperature.
How this works is simple, just like the ice cubes in your drink on a warm day, the pieces of meat are trying to cool down the water to freezing. Water holds heat energy better than meat does. The end result is that the water pulls the cold out of the meat and keeps cool. The average temperature seeks that of the average of the mass.
I will let you know about that steak and Au gratin potatoes later if you ask...