How to Tenderize Meat

One of the most expensive food items most people purchase at the grocery store is meat. Although it’s tempting to buy less expensive cuts of meat they can ruin your recipes by being tough and difficult to chew. One solution is to take cheaper cuts of meat and tenderize them so they have the texture of a more expensive cut of meat. This is easy to do using a variety of inexpensive methods at home. Here’s how to tenderize meat:

How to tenderize meat: Tenderize meat manually.

Using a few tools, you can quickly and easily tenderize cheaper cuts of meat in your kitchen. Place the meat between two pieces of plastic wrap. Then use a meat mallet to vigorously pound the meat into thinner slices. The pounding process helps to break down the fibers in the meat making it easier to chew. After thinning the meat, prepare it using your chosen cooking method. You can also buy a special tool called a blade meat tenderizer that tenderizes the meat by scoring it. Simple do an online search for “blade meat tenderizer”.

How to tenderize meat: Use liquids or marinades to tenderize your meat.

There are a variety of liquids that will break down or soften the meat fibers making the meat more tender. The key is to use a liquid or marinade that has a weak acid. One simple, inexpensive solution is to allow the meat to soak in a bowl of vinegar for an hour or two. Vinegar is made of a dilute solution of a weak acid known as acetic acid which softens tough meat fibers. You can also marinate the meat with a vinegar or lemon juice based marinade overnight to tenderize it. Another alternative is to use buttermilk. Buttermilk contains lactic acid which softens the tough fibers in meat. Allow the meat to soak in buttermilk for several hours before cooking it.

How to tenderize meat: Choose your cooking method.

Another way to tenderize meat is to choose a moist cooking method and cook it for a longer period of time. The two best methods for cooking tough meat are stewing or braising. Choosing a slightly acidic braising or stewing liquid such as wine can also help with the tenderizing process. The longer the meat cooks, the more tender it will be.

Of course you can always use a commercial meat tenderizer, but they often contain MSG which causes a reaction in some people. Plus, they often don’t do as good of a job of tenderizing as these other methods. It’s easy to tenderize even less expensive cuts of meat. Take advantage of this fact and you can save significant money on your grocery bill.

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