Tenderizing Meats

by Charlotte Wood
(last updated April 1, 2016)

I'm sure you've all had those cuts of meat that just aren't so great and usually that mediocrity is because the meat is too tough. When you're doing the cooking yourself, is there a way to reduce the toughness of your meat? Fortunately there are actually a couple of ways and they're not that hard. You might have to pick which method works best for you. Here are a couple of methods you can utilize to make your meat tenderer and not have to deal with too-tough meat!

One of the tools you can use is a meat mallet, used to pound the meat. This breaks up the connective fibers within the meat, making for a tenderer cut. The actual meat mallet looks like a hammer with large spikes on the end, but you can actually use the side of a butcher knife to achieve the same general effect. Using the latter method you can place the meat between two sheets of waxed paper and then using the side of the butcher knife, whack it down on the meat. This will ultimately succeed in flattening out the meat enough so that the fibers are broken up a bit and the meat tenderized.

Another way to tenderize meat is through the actual cooking of it, but this is largely dependent on the type of meat you're using and how you're cooking it for your recipe. The way to tenderize through cooking is called braising and essentially involves moist heat (like steam of some sort) that comes from the cooking which breaks apart the connective tissues enough to make the meat less tough. This method works, but is selective because it's dependent on how you decide to cook your meat (which is always largely dependent on the recipe you're following).

The third way you can employ to tenderize you meat is through chemical intervention. You can add a supplement of naturally occurring enzymes to your meat before cooking that will break down the connective tissue. This method isn't usually preferred just because adding chemicals to your meat isn't always the safest thing to do. If, however, you decide to use other natural means of tenderizing (like lemon juice), don't leave it there too long because the acid can actually break down some of the proteins, resulting in a not-so-great cut of meat.

So now that you know a few methods for tenderizing meats, you can choose what works best for you. Some methods work best with certain cuts and with certain styles of cooking, but most tenderizing techniques will have to be developed through trial and error. Good luck with your meat tenderizing!

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