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How to Tenderize Chicken and Beef

Updated on November 7, 2012
Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul is a barbecue enthusiast. He is currently grilling and smoking on a Komodo Kamado Ultimate 23.

Tenderize your meat

My preferred method of tenderizing meat is

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Table for tenderizing meat

Tough Steak
Premium Pork or Steak
Step #1
Tenderize with Mallet
Tenderize with mallet
Step #2
Brine or Marinade
Step #3
Pressure or slow cook
Follow these steps in order for the type of meat that you would like tenderized. This will result in tender and juicy meat

Three techniques to tenderize chicken and steak

Technique number one. Beat the meat. A meat tenderizer or a reversible meat tenderizer is the tool of choice. Most meat tenderizers come with teeth, but the reversible tool has a smooth service that I like if I'm trying to flatten meat more than completely tearing it up. The small teeth of the mallet will break down the fibers of the meat and make it more tender, the flat side is good for shaping the meat to an even thickness that helps it cook evenly on the grill.

If you are going to tenderize chicken or steak, it can be messy. Some people recommend covering the steak with plastic wrap, but I don't like this because I've seen the teeth of the meat tenderizer leave bits of wrap in the meat. However, the reversible meat tenderizer with the flat side will do OK with wrapped meats. The other option that is pointed out in the comments is to use parchment or wax paper.

Technique number two to tenderize meat is brining your chicken or marinading your steak. This technique is particularly successful if the meat has been tenderized first with a mallet. Brining poultry and marinading beef share the principle that the process absorbs fluid and flavor into the meat. When it's cooked, the added moisture helps cook the meat from the inside out and it retains more moisture. It also helps to sear the meat at a high temperature to help keep the moisture inside the meat.

The third technique is slow cooking your meat or pressure cooking your meat. Pork ribs that are slow cooked will fall off the bone. Beef brisket in a slow cooker or even better in a pressure cooker will become tender as well. Heat and pressure will break down protiens in the meat fibers making the meat tender.

It's good to tenderize tough meats, but for premium meats, I'd only brine or marinade them. Beef and pork tenderloin is already very tender, the brining or marinading can be used for adding juice to the meat, but I think it hurts the quality of the meat to pound premium meats with a tenderizer or to slow cook them.


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    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 6 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      Pressure cookers are amazing. Im going to use ours more this year.

    • hazelwood4 profile image

      hazelwood4 6 years ago from Owensboro, Kentucky

      Thank you for great tips for tenderizing mean. My wife and I purchased a pressure cooker a few months ago, and believe me this is a wonderful way to make any meat tender! Great tips!

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 6 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      Thats a great tip.

    • profile image

      D Davidson 6 years ago

      Use a 1 gallon zip lock bag. works great with the flat side. Once you get the thickness you need, use the tooth side as needed to open the tissues.

    • profile image

      POed 6 years ago

      Easiest way to get tender chicken is to stop buying tyson chicken.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Good way to release tension, bashing a piece of steak :)

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 8 years ago from ma

      I do a lot of slow cooking for roasts. It may take a while. But, it comes out delicious. I often put chicken breasts in a ziploc bag then use the flat side for shaping it. It works well when I just need thinner pieces or plan to stuff it. I haven''t tried it much with steak though.

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      @Carmen - Wax or parchment paper is definitely better than saran wrap, and will prevent some of the spattering when you pound meat out, but I still prefer to just use the mallet.

      One thing my wife pointed out, the reversible meat tenderizer tends to have a larger head than the standard meat tenderizers, so it might be a little more efficient.

    • profile image

      Angela James 8 years ago

      YUMMMMMMMMMMM All the talk about food makes me hungry....

      I always hated ripping up the meat. The back of the mallet works really well. Your article has shared your information well and shows your passion.

    • Carmen Borthwick profile image

      Carmen Borthwick 8 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

      Good stuff, Paul. A suggestion, maybe switch from using plastic to using wax or parchment paper. Plastic can release ubhealthy toxins into the flesh. I love my reversible mallet.

    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 8 years ago from Windermere, FL

      Now this is what I call a great Hub. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise in the kitchen, Paul.

      Don White

    • Philipo profile image

      Philipo 8 years ago from Nigeria

      Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    • artrush73 profile image

      artrush73 8 years ago

      thanks for sharing a great article. i will absolutely have to try that :)