Techniques

Pounding and Tenderizing Meat

The purpose of pounding meat is both cosmetic and utilitarian. Tough cuts are pounded to soften or tenderize the muscle and make it easier to cut and eat. When meat is a uniform thickness it certainly looks better. The even size lets it brown and cooks evenly. Frying thin filets of meat is quick and easy, and determining doneness is a snap.

It is also easier to work with meat that has uniform thickness. Many applications – like stuffing, rolling, and skewering – are much easier with pounded meat.

Pounding and tenderizing use the same technique but call for different sides of the meat mallet. For both techniques, find a surface that can withstand some force and can be washed easily. (Working directly on a tile or stone counter-top is bad. Use a cutting board!)

Sandwich the meat between two sheets of sturdy plastic wrap. Use the flat side of a meat mallet for pounding, and the bumpy side for tenderizing. Pound the meat, moving evenly across the muscle and concentrating on the thicker portions. If you pound too hard you can easily break through the meat, so don’t do this if you’re mad at someone. Flip the meat to be sure you’ve done an even job.

If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use anything heavy like a can of tomato sauce or a rock. Don’t forget the plastic wrap – you never know what that rock has been through!

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