Tougher cuts of meat are less expensive than the tender cuts at your local supermarket. Don't avoid buying them because you think they will make for a lacklustre dinner. There are many different methods for tenderising tough meat you can use at home. It only takes a few extra minutes, and the grocery savings can be well worth the effort.
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Pounding meat with a meat tenderizer is a very popular and efficient method of tenderising. Meat mallets are made from steel, wood or other heavy materials with small bumps coming out of the ends. The weight of the mallet flattens the meat into thinner slices, and the bumps help to break up some of the connective tissue. The end result is a thin, tender cut of meat.
Cubing meat is becoming an increasingly popular method of tenderising. This is done using either a handheld device that squeezes the meat, making several tiny cuts with each squeeze, or with a roller covered in sharp blades. The cuts result in tender meat, but do not affect its outside appearance.
Letting meat soak in a marinade, particularly one with many acid-based ingredients, is an effective tenderising method. The acidity is important because it breaks up the tougher tissue of the meat. Wine, pineapple juice, olive oil and vinegar are ideal acid based ingredients for a tenderising marinade. Various herbs and spices may be added to achieve the desired flavour. Meat that is extremely tough will benefit from marinating overnight in the refrigerator. For best results, the cut of meat should be completely covered in the marinade.
Tenderising powders are an easy-to-use method of tenderising meat. They usually contain enzyme extracts of papaya or pineapple that can effectively break up tough meat fibres when sprinkled on. One possible disadvantage of these powders is that they often do not tenderise deeper than the surface of the meat. They work best on thinner cuts.
Barding is done by wrapping cuts of meat in bacon before cooking. This naturally tenderises the meat because the fat from the bacon soaks into the meat as it cooks. It also gives the meat more flavour. After cooking, the bacon is removed. This method is ideal for leaner cuts of meat that do not contain much fat. Fattier cuts of meat, such as loins or ribs, do not benefit much from barding.
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