Why You Should Tenderize Meat

Taking the time to tenderize meat can change even the toughest cuts into juicy, succulent dishes that will leave them begging for more! Tenderizing is a process which breaks down the muscle fibers in meat to soften it so that it cuts more easily, is easier to chew and even tastes better. The good news is that tenderizing meat is easy and there are several tenderizing methods from which to choose.

So first let’s go old school with an actual meat tenderizer – which looks like a mallet with little spikes on it…something you might wish you had when the gigantic neighbor girl took your lunch money. Place your cut of meat on a cutting board and cover it with waxed paper or parchment paper to avoid a mess. Then pound it all over the entire surface, flip it over and repeat the process. 

If you don’t have a meat tenderizer or something you can use to pound your meat, you can also use a knife for tenderizing. In this case, simply make long, shallow scores against the grain with a sharp knife. 

Searing the juices in and then cooking meat low and slow is also an excellent way to tenderize meat. This particular tenderizing process works wonderfully for roasts.

You can also opt to simply purchase meat tenderizer in the store and marinate your meat with it. The active ingredient in store-bought meat tenderizer is either bromelain, which is derived from pineapple, or papain, which comes from papaya. These enzymes will break down the muscle fibers in your meat, rendering it tender, but be careful. Meat tenderizer doesn’t stop working until you cook your meat, so if you leave it on too long, you will get mush instead of meat! 

You can take this one step further and get your bromelain the natural way. For example, if you have shish kabobs that are crying out for a bit of Hawaiian flair, add a few tablespoons of pineapple puree to some teriyaki sauce to create a tenderizing marinade. 

Also remember that when you slice your meat, always slice against the grain. This added tenderizing measure also helps to break down muscle fiber.

So, as Michael Jackson would say, “Beat it!”…marinate it…slow cook it…or just slice it right!

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