OXO February Challenge: Is Tenderizing Worth it?
Words Amalia Safran
Ever wonder why people pound a piece of steak with a meat tenderizer before marinating and cooking? Ever think it looks like an extra, unnecessary step? Well, we wanted to get down to the nitty gritty of why chef’s recommend tenderizing meat before cooking it.
First, let’s understand tenderizing: it’s the process of either beating or slow cooking meat to make it easier to chew or cut. Think about how soft slowly braised short ribs get – that’s them getting tenderized.
Second, let’s understand what makes meat tough. When you’re eating meat, whether it’s beef, lamb, veal or pig, you’re eating the muscle of the animal. When animals move and exercise, this tightens their muscles, which leads to tougher cuts of meat. In order to get a tender result, which is more flavorful, juicy and less chewy, we want to break up those muscle fibers.
As mentioned above, beating a cut of meat is a method for achieving tender results. The hammer-style Meat Tenderizer has a flat side perfect for pounding meat flat (think: chicken parmesan and veal cutlets) and a textured side for tougher cuts. The Bladed Meat Tenderizer has 50 sharp blades that create pockets for meat to quickly absorb marinades and retain its own juices. This also promotes uniform cooking.
The results? A more juicy, flavorful piece of meat. So, yes, it’s worth it.
One of our favorite marinades to use for skirt steak comes from Alton Brown (below). Sometimes, our engineer Mack will even make this marinade and freeze it ahead of time if he’s grilling for a group. We’ve adapted it below.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
4 scallions, washed and cut in 1/2
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into 3 equal pieces
1. In a blender, add oil, soy sauce, scallions, garlic, lime juice, red pepper, cumin, and sugar. Puree together.
2. Put pieces of skirt steak in a container and pour in marinade.
3. Seal container. Allow steak to marinate for 1 hour in refrigerator.
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