Have you ever tried to cook a steak and it came out tough? If so, you’re not alone. The problem with cooking steaks is that they can be difficult to get just right. Cooking them for too long will make the meat tough, while undercooking may result in eating raw or undercooked meat.
This article will teach you how to tenderize your steak properly so it’s juicy, flavorful, and cooked through without being chewy!
What is Tenderizing?
Tenderizing is a process that breaks down the muscle fibers in meat to make it more palatable. It makes tough cuts of meat tender and edible.
There are several ways this can be done, but most involve some kind of mechanical action on the flesh itself.
Some methods use needles or blades; others involve pounding with blunt instruments like hammers or mallets; still others employ acidic liquids like vinegar or sour cream which act as marinades for meats before they enter cooking pots.
One method uses both enzymes (papain) from papaya fruit along with diluted acids such as lemon juice mixed into food grade plastic bags that contain thinner slices than usual of beef, pork, lamb or chicken along with onions and garlic cloves then refrigerated for up to three days.
Should You Tenderize Steak?
- While the extent to which you can tenderize your steak depends on the cut and the method of cooking, tenderizing meat helps in the preservation of taste and fluids.
- When you tenderize a piece of meat, you create tiny holes in the connective tissue, which allows the flesh to absorb marinades and spices more effectively, resulting in a more juicy and delicious steak.
- Additionally, tenderizing improves in the preparation of big portions of steak.
- For example, flank and skirt steaks have muscles with lengthy, dense fibers that make them tough to chew. By thinning these slices, they become more manageable to cook and enjoy.
- When utilizing smaller pieces of meat, some cooking methods such as broiling, braising, frying, or grilling provide better results.
Which Types of Steaks You Should Tenderize?
Consider tenderizing flank steaks, skirt steaks, and tri-tips.
The cuts include massive muscles that are frequently hardened by the grill’s high heat. Pre-tenderizing these steaks and cutting the meat in a straight line may result in tender and juicy meat.
Tenderizing round, chuck, London broil, and top sirloin steaks is also beneficial. Typically, these less costly cuts have a lower fat content than the more expensive cuts. Additionally, tenderizing the steak breaks down the muscle fibers, keeping it juicy and delicious.
Tenderizing is usually beneficial for less costly steaks for identical reasons, regardless of whether they are higher-end cuts. The less expensive steaks often have less fat marbled into the meat and may also contain a significant quantity of chewy connective tissue.
A tenderizing inexpensive Ribeye or New York strip steak, for example, may aid in breaking up this cartilage and allowing it to cook faster. So that it does not dry out before reaching the required degree of doneness.
5 Ways To Tenderize A Steak
Pound It Out
The simplest and most gratifying way to tenderize a steak is to pound it. You may buy a meat hammer specifically for this purpose, but any strong, heavy item would suffice. Ascertain that both the tenderizing equipment and your work space are capable of the job. For instance, I would not recommend anything made of glass.
Wrap the meat in plastic wrap or place it inside a resealable bag. This keeps the fluids confined and reduces the likelihood of contaminating your workspace or causing damage to your equipment.
Repeated strikes rip the connective tissue, softening and chewing the flesh. Additionally, the flattened steak is softer and requires less time to cook. A shorter time on the grill means you have a lesser risk of becoming tough again.
If you’re contemplating purchasing an animal hammer, look for one that is both beautiful and durable, preferably with a wooden handle. (Wood is difficult to clean and helps maintain the space clear of pollutants.)
The hammer has two distinct faces: a flat face and a rough face. The rough face may be used to tenderize, while the flat face is utilized to smooth tender wounds to make them thinner.
Harness the power of salt
Salt is my favorite method for tenderizing steak. Even if you prefer to smash or score your steak manually, you must still use salt to soften the flesh if you have the time. Salt is often used in marinades as well.
While the salt remains on the outside, it starts to draw moisture from the interior of the steak. Moisture reacts with the salt, forming an incredibly thin coating of salty, meaty brine around your meat. The salt is absorbed by the meat and begins dissolving muscle fibers.
Thus, after about an hour, you’ll have a delectable and tender steak that only has to be cooked to the desired degree of doneness. This is almost magical!
The greatest part about salting a whole piece of meat is that it does not need accuracy or a great deal of work or time. A prepared salted steak may be kept in the refrigerator for approximately a day until you’re ready to cook it.
In an emergency, you may dry brine your meat by adding salt and let it to sit on the counter at room temperature for 1 hour per centimeter. Shake off any excess salt and pat the steak dry with an absorbent paper towel before placing it on the hot grill. It’s that simple!
Enzymes or acids that have been used to marinate your steak decrease the fibers, softening the meat.
Add lime juice, lemon juice, cider vinegar, apple cider juice, or buttermilk to the marinade if you want to marinate the steak in an acidic liquid. Allow the steak to rest in it for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the piece.
Regularly check the steak to ensure that the acid is not eroding the fatty acids and then remove it from the marinade when the edges begin to brown.
Papaya, pineapple, kiwi, and mangoes all contain enzymes that aid in the tenderization of meat. To begin, just add a little quantity of chopped or pureed fruits to the marinade.
If desired, lightly cover both sides of the steak with an enzyme-based tenderizer. Because enzymes do the bulk of the work while cooking, there is no need to wait longer than the minute required to dissolve the spice.
Because some meat tenderizers include salt, you should be cautious with the amount of salt in your marinade if you want to add a salty tenderizer on top.
Tropical fruits such as pineapples, papayas, and kiwis all contain enzymes that aid in the tenderization of meat.
Powdered meat tenderizers remove the taste of the fruit by utilizing purified enzymes — papain from papayas or bromelain from pineapples – to tenderize your meat.
They are very effective, but unlike acidic marinades, they only act on the surface of the meat. If you use too many enzyme tenderizers, your steaks may have an amorphous quality.
The tough pieces of meat with numerous connective tissues, such as brisket, chuck roast, and bottom round, are excellent slow cooker candidates. Slowly and low-fat over many hours, the collagen in the tough cut will finally break down, leaving a bounty of juicy, soft meat.
Tenderizing a steak is not difficult, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. A quick marinade or rubbing with salt can get the job done in no time! How do you like your steak? And what are some of your favorite budget cuts for tenderizing? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.