Tips for Tenderizing Meat
1. Beat it with a tenderizing hammer. The reason tenderizing meat in this way works is because by battering it with a tenderizing hammer you are beginning the mastication process and breaking down the cell structure of the meat. A small points here, only use this method of tenderizing meat directly prior to cooking as the meat becomes more susceptable to freezer burn and turning brown.
2. Marinade in an acidic substance such as vinegar or citrus juice – tenderizing meat in this way works because vinegar is an acid and therefore disolves the membranes around the cells and unwinds the long proteins in the muscle. You need to be aware when when tenderizing meat in this way that the vinegar is going to flavour the meat so here’s a couple of quick tips – wine vinegar will leave a slightly bitter taste to the meat whilst cider vinegar will give it a sweeter tang. Armed with this knowledge you can make a decision based on the type of recipe you are putting together.
3. According to eHow, fresh pineapple juice contains a powerful tenderizer in the form of the enzyme bromelin. I haven’t tried tenderizing meat like this but I would imagine a marinade of pineapple would add a sweet, fruity flavour to the dish so ideal for moroccan or caribean dishes.
4. For tenderizing larger cuts of meat, the best method is slow cooking in a moist environment (like a stew or pot roast) over a long period of time.
5. Apparantly baking soda is used in many Chinese restaurants to give a tender, silky feel to smaller cuts of meat. Simply coat the cut meat in baking soda (about 1 tsp per 450g of meat) and work it in with your fingers. Leave for no longer than 15 minutes (you don’t want the baking soda to flavour the meat) and then wash thoroughly.
Why Rest Meat?
Always rest meat before serving, this allows the meat juices to be reabsorbed back into the meat.
If you cut into the meat and the juices (and incidentally the flavour) flood out onto the plate then you’re probably not resting the meat for long enough.
When the meat is being cooked, the meat juices flow away from the heat towards the center of the meat, by resting meat the flavoursome juices are redistributed as the protein molecules relax. Some studies show that almost twice as much liquid is lost if you don’t rest the meat.
Resting Meat – How Long?
As a rule of thumb you can allow 5-10 minutes resting time for steaks (depending on size and thickness), for a roasting joint you will often need between 15 and 20 minutes resting time.
If you’re cooking steak, Gordon Ramsey recomends ‘flashing’ it through a hot oven before serving. For roasts, my experience is that the meat doesn’t cool quickly and the addition of gravy warms the meat to the perfect temperature.
More Info on Resting Meat
I found a massive report all about this from the food lab of Serious Eats – take a look here if you have the time.
How to sharpen a knife with a steel
A sharp knife is critical to preparation of good food. A good steel can be bought for around £5 and I can say it’s probably the best investment I’ve ever made. Obviously it’s one thing to have a steel, yet another to know how to use it! So here’s a great video that shows how to sharpen a knife with a steel.
As a point of interest, when you use a steel, you’re not actually sharpening the knife – you’re merely re-aligning the blade – the video kind of explains this.
I hope you find it helpful!
Sharpening A Knife With A Steel