Some cuts of beef are cheaper than others and there’s a reason for that. Chuck, flank and other cheap cuts of meat are well known for being tough, if cooked improperly. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid these cheaper cuts of meat. There are tips you can follow to tenderize tough cuts of meat.
Tip #1: Break Out the Meat Mallet
Meat mallets usually have two sides. One is flat, while the other has spikes. The spiked side of a meat mallet can be used to tenderize tough cuts of meat. It’s also a great way to relieve frustration. Cover the meat with a piece of plastic wrap and pound the meat with the mallet until it starts to breakdown. An alternative to this method is the meat tenderizer, which is a gadget that has a series of spikes that press through the meat.
Tip #2: Marinade the Meat
Marinades with acid are a great way to tenderize meat because they break down the meat. They also don’t take long to take effect. Steaks and beef tips can be placed in a large zip top bag and marinated for as little as 30 minutes, depending on the acid level of the marinade. Less acidic marinades, such as Italian dressing, will require at least two hours, but do help tenderize tough cuts of meat.
Tip #3: Cook the Meat Low and Slow
Tough cuts of meat do not take kindly to high heat. In fact, high heat makes tough cuts of meat tougher. This is because the high heat causes the tendons of the meat to contract. The best approach to cooking tough cuts of meat is to cook them in a slow cooker, slow roast them in the oven or over indirect heat on the grill.
Tip #4: Cut Against the Grain
You can follow all the tips listed above and still end up with tough meat. This final tip is critical. You must cut against the grain is order for a piece of tough meat to be tender. Doing so breaks down the tendons of the meat into more manageable pieces making the meat easier to chew.