The Tip To Remember When Tenderizing A Cut Of Meat With A Mallet

Tenderizing is a great way to turn otherwise tough and chewy pieces of meat softer and more palatable. Whether it's chicken, veal, pork, or steak, a meat mallet goes a long way toward enhancing the texture and quality of your meat. However, there is one thing you need to be careful to avoid when tenderizing meat, and that's not to overdo it. 

While you will always adjust the amount of pounding force depending on the thickness of the cut, you should still exercise restraint. It can be easy to get carried away and pound the meat too much. What will result is a general mush, as opposed to a cut of meat that, while softer, remains intact. Pounding meat to the point where it is no longer a cohesive piece is the antithesis of tenderization. 

A meat mallet is a great tool to have in your kitchen. Aside from being a wonderful way to relieve stress, tenderizing meat has culinary purposes beyond just making the cut thinner. It allows for easier, faster cooking, as well as letting marinades penetrate deeper, provided you've used the spiked side.

How to use a meat tenderizer

There are a few different types of mallets you can use to tenderize meat. The most common is one that's hammer-shaped with one side that's flat and another that's spiked. The flat side is used to flatten the meat out into an even thickness and is traditionally used for chicken because its meat is more delicate. The spiky side is more commonly used for tenderizing steaks and other red meats. However, its ultimate purpose is to break up the connective tissue so that the steak will cook quicker and the marinades will penetrate deeper. 

To flatten your meat, cover it with plastic wrap or wax paper, and pound the pieces until they've reached your desired thickness. Then go over them once with the spiky side. That works best for chicken and veal. With steak, it's best to exclusively use the spiky side. Pound the steak lightly, starting at the edges and working your way steadily inward until the meat is the thickness you want it and the connective tissue is thoroughly broken down.

In the end, it's really about balance. Tenderizing meat helps in so many ways, but you still want to be careful not to overdo it. So take your time, use a decent amount of force, and if you think you've done too much, stop. You can always tenderize more, but you can't take it back once you've tenderized the meat too much.