It’s a fact of life that some cuts of meat are more tender than others. Cuts of meat are muscles, and the more they get worked, the tougher they get, so certain cuts like beef round, pork butts and more can make for tough chewing. Fortunately, there are ways you can take these inexpensive cuts of meat and make them more tender, as well as easier to cook. All of these methods are mechanical, meaning that you are actually breaking down tough connective tissue in the meat. Methods like marinating or brining don’t actually tenderize meat, they just add moisture to the meat, making the cut seem more tender. So, if you want meat that’s physically more tender, here are our 3 suggestions on how you can tenderize meat:
- Use a meat mallet and pound your meat with the pointy side! The pointy end of a meat mallet is there for a reason. It cuts into the meat and breaks up connective tissue. Plus, by pounding the meat to an even thickness, you’ll help the meat cook more evenly so you don’t dry out any thicker parts. This is the easiest way to tenderize your meat.
- Use a Jaccard machine. A Jaccard meat tenderizer is a device that has a large number of small needles or knives that you push into the meat. We use a large scale machine like this to make cube steaks, for instance. You can take this machine, poke holes into a cut of meat and make it significantly more tender because you have cut connective tissue all throughout the cut. This takes a little bit more time, but is very effective! Note – with meat that you have pounded or tenderized, make sure you use a clean tool and cook the meat to 165ºF to combat the possibility of food borne illness.
- Slice the meat against the grain. You might not think of this, but when you are cutting a steak or chop, there is a natural grain to the meat, just like a piece of wood. When you cut your meat with the grain, you bite into full intact fibers that are tough to chew. By cutting your meat against the grain, you break these fibers up and make your meat easier to chew. This is especially important with cuts like beef flank steak or skirt steak.
There are our three ways you can mechanically tenderize your meat. Each method can help take a more affordable cut of meat and make it physically more tender and delicious. You can also purchase pre-tenderized cuts of meat like cube steaks or cutlets from LGCM. They’re great for quick grilling and pan frying. Do you have questions about tenderizing meat? Drop us a line, or stop by the store and ask! We’re happy to help. See you soon at Lake Geneva Country Meats!