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Old 05-23-2006, 12:33 PM   #1
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Meat tenderizer question.

I saw a meat tenderiser at the store today. I wasn't quite sure if I should pick it up.
Is it essential to use in in certain dishes?
How does it "tenderise" the meat?

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Old 05-23-2006, 01:01 PM   #2
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Oops I just realised I shoud have put this in Cook's tools. Sorry for the trouble.
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Old 05-23-2006, 01:10 PM   #3
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Shaheen:

I moved your thread.

There are a couple of tenderizing tools available. One is a hammer or mallet type with one surface being smooth and the other having diamond-shaped points on it. Striking the surface of meat with the pointed side breaks up the bundles of muscle fiber that make up a cut of meat.

The flat side of this tool is used to flatten out a thick piece of meat into a thin cutlet or scallopine.

Another type is a jacarding tool. That is a device with a series of sharp metal pins that can be used to repeatedly 'stab' a piece of meat with the same effect, breaking up the muscle fibers.
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Old 05-24-2006, 01:51 AM   #4
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The one I used is a bit of a different shape, and is made by Oxo. It's also the one Alton Brown suggests on his FoodTV show Good Eats, though he doesn't explicitly mention it by name. Here's a pic:



It works great on chicken, which is all I've had a chance to hit. Alternatively you could use a pie tin and a can of vegetables.
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Old 05-24-2006, 03:30 AM   #5
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There are many uses for a meat tenderizer. Certain dishes require it. Saltimbocca, for example, and Wiener Schnitzel.

I also bash slices of pork fillet until they are quite thin, then wrap this around English sausages that have been wrapped in Prosciutto. Cook in the oven as for normal chicken. Delicious.

Bashed pork folded over ham and cheese and dipped in breadcrumbs before frying makes a delightful supper dish.

If you have any doubt about how tender your chicken breast is, then give it a couple of whacks with the tenderiser before cooking. It works wonders.

But do try and get a tenderiser with one side flat, Not all meats need bashing with the spikes. (Indeed, very few)

Incidentally, if my tenderizer is not to hand I use a bottle of wine (or the rolling pin!)
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Old 05-24-2006, 03:38 PM   #6
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Oxo makes one also, which I have.


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Old 05-24-2006, 07:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarrettB
Alternatively you could use a pie tin and a can of vegetables.
In a pinch I've also used a hammer (LOL), though I'd not recommend that unless you're totally sure that you're counters can withstand it.

Meat tenderizers are nifty tools to have around, especially as we head into summer and prime BBQ season. Make sure to get one that is double sided (one side is smooth, perfect for flattening things like chicken breasts and veal and the other side has raised bumps/dull spikes and is great for tougher cuts of meat like beef).
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Old 06-11-2006, 12:40 PM   #8
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Meat tenderizers

Mechanical meat tenderizers work by cutting the long muscle fibers into shorter ones. The problem is, this pokes holes in the meat that allow juices to escape during cooking. I would never use one, personally, unless it was on meat I was planning to braise, and then there would be no point, because the braising process tenderizes the meat just fine.

Far better to use a product that tenderizes the meat chemically, like one that contails papain, in my opinion. Keep those juices where they belong!

Kelly
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Old 06-11-2006, 12:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyM
Mechanical meat tenderizers work by cutting the long muscle fibers into shorter ones. The problem is, this pokes holes in the meat that allow juices to escape during cooking. I would never use one, personally, unless it was on meat I was planning to braise, and then there would be no point, because the braising process tenderizes the meat just fine.

Far better to use a product that tenderizes the meat chemically, like one that contails papain, in my opinion. Keep those juices where they belong!

Kelly
First, "poking holes in the meat" when it's raw will not cause the juices to run out when it's cooking. This is only true if you cut into cooked or partially cooked meats. So pound away.

Second, some chemical meat tenderizers direct you to poke holes into the meat before applying the tenderizer so it will penetrate.

Either is an effective solution.
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Old 06-11-2006, 01:59 PM   #10
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There are two different kinds of mechanical meat "tendreizers":

One has pyramid shaped spikes that you bash the meat with like a hammer and only works with thin cuts of meat, like GarrettB posted, and depend on stretching and breaking the long muscle and connective tissue fibers to tenderize the meat. This results in significant flattening (making the meat thinner) in the process. Yes, they do work to a degree ... so does bashing the meat with the edge of a sturdy dinner plate.

The ones with blades that cut the long muscle and connective tissue fibers like the ones made by Jaccard that Andy M. was talking about, do not flatten the meat, can be used with thicker cuts of meat, and generally do a better job since they directly cut the connective tissue. Commercial meat tenderizers (such as the Hobart 403-1) used in grocery stores/butcher shops use this technique ... except they use a pair of offset roller blades and run about $2,500.

The big problem with the chemical meat tenderizers (generally made from dehydrated papain from papaya) that KellyM mentioned it that: the meat still must be punctured liberally and applied with sufficient moisture to allow the tenderizer to dissolve and penetrate the meat. The problem here is one of timing ... papain is a "digestive" enzyme and will cause the surface of the meat to turn to mush if left on for more than about 10-15 minutes before cooking ... which may not be sufficient to "tenderize" the interior of the meat.

What kind of meat tenderizer did you stumble across, Shaheen?
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:39 PM   #11
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Hmmmmmmmmmm!

I cannot help wondering what sort of meat you get in America that needs the use of a spiky mallet type tenderizer! I used to need to tenderize Chinese beef (It is terrible quality!) and I have a tenderizer. However, these days plenty of imported beef is available.

On the other hand, I often use the flat side of this "tenderizer" mallet on beef to make Schnitzel, Chicken rolls, or Pork Cordon Bleu. But I have not used the spiky side of the mallet for years.

My suggestion is NOT to tenderize by beating with spikes. It means all the juices run out when cooking.
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Old 06-11-2006, 05:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by advoca
Hmmmmmmmmmm!

I cannot help wondering what sort of meat you get in America that needs the use of a spiky mallet type tenderizer! I used to need to tenderize Chinese beef (It is terrible quality!) and I have a tenderizer. However, these days plenty of imported beef is available.

On the other hand, I often use the flat side of this "tenderizer" mallet on beef to make Schnitzel, Chicken rolls, or Pork Cordon Bleu. But I have not used the spiky side of the mallet for years.

My suggestion is NOT to tenderize by beating with spikes. It means all the juices run out when cooking.
In general, the beef that is available to the average consumer in the U.S. in probably the best in the world, with Canada being right up there as well. However, there are some cheaper, tougher cuts of meat that may need tenderizing. But personally, I wouldn't use these types of meats for anything other than braising or stewing anyway. If I'm going to throw some steaks on the grill, it will be rib eyes, porterhouses, or new yorks. If you have to take a tenderizer to any of these cuts, then you should start buying your beef from another store.

Like Andy M. said, poking holes or beating your meat won't necessarily cause the juices to run. Once you add the meat to a hot grill or pan and sear it, the small holes will close up. Juice from the meat may accumulate on the top side, but that will happen even if you don't poke holes in it. So in other words, it's pretty safe to beat your meat as much as you want, just make sure that you wash your hands.
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Old 06-11-2006, 08:34 PM   #13
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No slur on American meat intended. I am sorry if anyone thought this.

But Ironchef is right. If you are buying meat that needs tenderizing then do not tenderize it. Use it in stewing

This really raises the question, why buy a spiky "tenderizer?"
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Old 06-11-2006, 09:42 PM   #14
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My S. O. LOVES! stuffed flank steak. It is a very tough piece of meat but has a great beef flavor. Before stuffing it, I tenderize it with the studded hammer mentioned above. It serves to break up the muscle fibers some and allows me to flatten the flank steak to a larger, thinner piece of meat. Then I stuff, roll, tie, sear and roast to medium rare.

The final step is slicing it across the grain and serving. Handled in this way, it's reasonably tender as well as being very tasty.

I also marinate and grill flank steak after tenderizing it with a jacarding tool. Again, very flavorful beef and tender if sliced across the grain.
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Old 06-12-2006, 10:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
First, "poking holes in the meat" when it's raw will not cause the juices to run out when it's cooking. This is only true if you cut into cooked or partially cooked meats. So pound away.

Second, some chemical meat tenderizers direct you to poke holes into the meat before applying the tenderizer so it will penetrate.

Either is an effective solution.
Hey Andy,

I suppose you are right, now that I think about it a little more. I have used the chemical tenderizers in the past without poking holes, but it really is only after you start cooking meat that it starts spouting like a geyser if you poke a hole in it. This makes me feel better about pulling the plastic turkey timers out! Thanks,

Kely
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Old 06-12-2006, 10:43 AM   #16
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I have several preparations for round and flank steak. I find that marinating adds even more flavor if I pound with the tenderizer side of my mallet before adding the marinade (creates an effectively larger surface area to take the flavor).

I also have one of the Jaccard types that I bought at Cabela's a few years ago. I use it both for tenderizing and again for giving the marinade a greater effect.

I use the flat side regularly for chicken breast... I generally slice them in half, then pound to about 1/4" or even less. The meat cooks faster and doesn't seem to be as dry as when I cook breast halves whole... and again, it seems to enhance any flavors or sauces I use.
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Old 06-12-2006, 11:47 AM   #17
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I can't tell you what kind I have...it's just one I got from my grandmother. The spikes are not all that long, and it does have a flat side.
I use it to pound out thin slices of boneless pork loin into cutlets, which we season, dip in seasoned flour, then in egg/water, then back in flour. We fry them in hot canola oil, and they are delicious!
Same thing with round steaks...we cut them in individual pieces, and make chicken-fried steaks.
We also use it on chicken breasts to make things like Chicken Lombardi.
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