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Old 03-02-2011, 02:13 PM   #1
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A very naughty chicken

I am trying to make a family recipe chicken dish. I have the recipe given by my mother, to my wife, and it is written in Italian. It starts with, "Sciopero rendere facile a pollo" which means "beat the chicken to make easy" in exact translation.......but the intended meaning is to tenderize the meat by beating the crap out of it with a kitchen hammer. I remember my mother making this dish and she would senselessly beat a poor dead chicken to smithereens before frying it with spices. As a child would think when I was younger, "how naughty was this fowl that it did deserve such a bad treatment even after it has died that we must beat it"?

Let's pretend that I am not a good cook. Let us also pretend that I have no idea what I'm doing in a kitchen and I want to make this for dinner tonight. I see myself hitting boneless chicken breasts with a hammer and bits of meat flying and clinging to everything in our kitchen and completely mangling these poor pieces of meat beyond recognition.

My question is this: How necessary a step is it for me to abuse this chicken? Is there a way to tenderize chicken pieces with some type of marinade instead?

Keep this in mind please. The raising of chickens in Europe for consumption consists of owning some chickens who run around in your farm or yard. When you want chicken....you go get one from the back yard. There is no FDA oversight because fowl consumption is virtually non-existent in the commercial market. Italy is surrounded on 3 sides by water so we eat mainly seafood.

Thanks for you help.

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Old 03-02-2011, 02:31 PM   #2
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If you don't need the chicken pieces at an even thickness you could likely skip this step. However, should you decide to tenderize with a mallet, might I suggest you either use waxed paper on both sides of the chicken piece or put it in an undone ziploc? Either way will minimize the mess in your kitchen.
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:35 PM   #3
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place a piece of plastic wrap on the table. Place the boneless chicken on the wrap. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Pounding chicken will no longer make a mess.

Chicken is usually pounded to flatten the meat so that it cooks evenly, or to make a nice, flat piece of meat with which to surround something, like swiss cheese and ham for "Chicken Cordon Bleau" or with herbed butter for "Chicken Kiev", or to make various rouladen or roulaides. Chicken Parmesan is also made with flattened chicken.

If you are simply looking for tender chicken, you can slice it into strips, dip in a mixture of beaten egg and soy sauce, then in cornstarch, and cook in 140' F. oil or 160' water until it is just done, no browning allowed. The cornstarch will become translucent when it is cooked. This is called velvetized chicken and it creates a very tender piece of chicken meat. Also, if you cook the chicken meat by stir-fry, grill, broiler, oven roasting, or pan frying, if you get the meat to 160'f. and immediately remove the meat from the heat source, it will be very tender and juicy. You can do this with practice The learning curve is steep as it's not a difficult thing to do.

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Old 03-02-2011, 02:36 PM   #4
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Unless you have a meat mallet, cover the chicken as Alix suggests and use a heavy skillet or wine bottle to pound the chicken. The result should be a flattened piece of chicken of uniform thickness. It might be best to cut the breast into two or three pieces so the pounded chicken is a more manageable size.
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:43 PM   #5
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If the recipe is of peasant roots, as quite a few Italian recipes are, then the chicken may have been an old laying hen past its prime. It was probably necessary for the tenderizing treatment as the bird had gotten tuff with age. The only reason I could see for using a mallet on store bought chicken today would be to even out the thickness for even cooking, as has been mentioned.

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Old 03-02-2011, 03:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigC View Post
If the recipe is of peasant roots, as quite a few Italian recipes are, then the chicken may have been an old laying hen past its prime. It was probably necessary for the tenderizing treatment as the bird had gotten tuff with age. The only reason I could see for using a mallet on store bought chicken today would be to even out the thickness for even cooking, as has been mentioned.

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Exactly what I was thinking.
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Old 03-02-2011, 03:21 PM   #7
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I don't know I have had some really tough chicken from the store.
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Old 03-02-2011, 03:46 PM   #8
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Chicken breast meat doesn't need to be tenderized!!

Its a very tender protein right off the bat.

The only reason to use a mallet on it is to even out the size or to make scallopini.

It doesn't need chemical tenderization, either.

All it needs is to be cooked correctly, which means : JUST UNTIL DONE. If you overcook it, it will get dry and tough.

You can bring chicken to make it jucier and improve taste, but please dont beat it up.
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Old 03-02-2011, 04:19 PM   #9
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You all have very good advice and I agree with it all. Firstly, I have had unbeaten chicken at it was very delicious.....so I think the reason it is in this recipe is for 1 of 2 things: To make the chicken uniform and because the recipe was handed down from my great grandmother. The chickens at home run like crazy and eat whatever they can find or what is given to them. Chicken here are bred so they don't move around a lot so the meat should be naturally more tender.....and mostly they are fed a very uniform diet.

Since science is near and dear to me I will conduct the experiment with cooking half the chicken unbeaten and I will severely abuse the other half with a ball-peen hammer and some wax paper or cling wrap. And I think I should cook the un-abused chicken a little longer.

Either way, my wife will not have to make dinner after a very difficult day of traveling and have something hot to eat when she arrives. Hopefully we will still be healthy tomorrow after eating my cooking tonight.
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:56 PM   #10
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Not a ball peen hammer--try something with a flat face. It'll go quicker.

Sounds like your wife is lucky to have you.
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