Some meats are naturally tough. That doesn’t mean you have to settle for subpar and chewy meat. There are many things you can do before and during cooking to tenderize the meat. Here are a few tips and tricks to get tender meat:
Physically tenderize the meat
You can use a meat mallet or a meat tenderizer to break down the tough muscle fibers. First, gently pound the tough sides of the meat until they feel softer. Do not overdo it. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a mushy cut of meat that will shred to pieces when you cook it.
If you don’t own a mallet, you can use a knife. Make shallow crosshatch patterns on the surface. You can also use a fork to poke tiny holes into the meat. This will help the muscle fibers to dissociate.
Salt the meat
Salting the meat goes beyond adding flavor. It can draw out the moisture from the meat up to the surface. You will eventually notice that the meat will turn into a brighter and deeper shade of red. Salt your meat about 24 hours before cooking.
Marinate the meat
Marinades can make the meat tender. This is due to the slightly acidic ingredients. These include lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk. These break down the protein elements of the meat and tenderizes it. You can let the meat sit for about thirty minutes to two hours. Go beyond that, and your meat might become super soft and mushy.
Low and slow
Premium cuts can retain their tenderness at high temperatures. However, budget cuts do not share the same quality. These cuts include pork shoulders or chuck roasts. The key is to cook these at low heat for a longer period of time.
The “low and slow” method helps the collagen break down. It will allow the sauce and flavor to penetrate deeper. Make sure to cook for at least four hours or more. Use a Dutch oven or a slow cooker.
Allow the meat to rest
Try cooking the meat once it has reached room temperature. Cooking meat without completely letting it thaw will leave you with chewy and tough meat.
After you cook it, allow the meat to rest. This will allow the juices to be redistributed throughout the meat. You will get tender meat after the rest.