While there are countless ways to cook steaks, one thing that tends to be different with every steak, even the same steak cut, is the thickness. The steak thickness changes how long it needs to cook. It can be challenging to know how long to cook multiple steaks of the same cut when they are different thicknesses or if the recipe gives a specific cooking time. Another factor that affects the steak is how tough the meat is.
Should You Tenderize Ribeye Steak?
If you have a good quality steak, you won’t need or want to tenderize it with a tenderizer. The ribeye is a bone-less cut and consists of excellent marbling, which makes it flavorful and tender without a lot of work on your part. That said, always consider the meat source to determine how to cook it, as it will make the process of grilling it much easier.
There are a couple of options for cooking a tougher steak. One is to adjust the cooking times for every steak and monitoring the temperature of the steak or meats constantly or the temperature of the grill the whole time.
Another thing you can do, which is probably easier, is to tenderize the steaks and meats. You will need a meat tenderizer mallet for this, as well as a cutting board. Parchment paper or wax paper is optional as well.
What Does It Mean to Tenderize Meat?
Tenderizing meat breaks down the meat’s tough muscle parts, whether it be in chicken, steaks, or other types of meat. Animals that get a lot of exercise have more muscle and less fat, so their meat is tough and lean. This means when you cook it, it can be tougher to cut through.
Tenderizing the meat will help soften the muscle’s proteins, making it a softer piece of meat to cut and chew. Tenderizing the meat can also help create punctures in the tough steaks so that you can cook a more flavorful piece of meat with marinades or seasonings.
How Do You Tenderize Meat?
The easiest way to tenderize meat is to use a meat tenderizer. It looks like a hammer. One side is smooth, and the other side is textured. The smooth side is for chicken and veal, while the textured side is for tough cuts of meat like steaks or wild game.
To tenderize the meat, put the meat on a flat surface like a cutting board. You can cover it with wax paper or parchment paper so that the hammer doesn’t stick to the meat or puncture holes if you don’t want it to.
You can also leave the meat uncovered and use the hammer directly on the meat. The textured side is great to use on tough meats like steaks.
The spikes on it will puncture the meat. The punctures will soften up the muscle creating a more tender piece of meat. It also creates spots for the marinade to soak deeper into the meat, giving you a more flavorful meal.
Tenderizing meat should not take a long time either. This is a quick process that you can do before putting the marinade or seasoning on.
Your meat, however, should be room temperature before you tenderize it. Pounding a frozen hunk of meat won’t do anything, and it won’t puncture the tougher meats correctly to soak up the marinade.
Once your meat has thawed, tenderizing it will work just fine, and then you can proceed with cooking your meal!
What Meats Should You Tenderize?
The short answer is all of them! You can tenderize any meat that you’re going to have for dinner. However, should you is the better question. Should you tenderize chicken?
Should you tenderize ribeye steak? Tenderizing the meat doesn’t only give you softer meat to cut into. It also gives you a more even cooking time.
So if you are planning to cook up multiple chicken breasts and they are different sizes and thicknesses as they tend to be, you can tenderize them, so they are the same.
Pay extra attention to the thicker end of the breasts and pound them down, so they are even with the rest. This will ensure a more even cooking process, giving you a juicier piece of meat as a result.
The same goes for steaks. Lean steaks need tenderizing, so they aren’t so tough to cut into. They also need tenderizing so that they can soak in the marinade and whatever seasonings you put on them.
Like chicken, you want to tenderize the steaks, so they are the same thickness throughout as well. This will give you an easier cooking time, resulting in a nice, juicy steak.
You can also tenderize meats like pork, veal, lamb, and all cuts of steaks.
Tenderizing the tougher ones will make them softer and more flavorful. Tenderizing the already tender meats won’t do a lot, but it will help reshape them and make them easier to cook.
Are There Any Meats You Shouldn’t Tenderize?
While the easy answer is no, the better answer is: it depends. Some meats are already really tender, especially steaks. These steaks that start out incredibly tender are usually fatty cuts, so they don’t necessarily need tenderizing.
You can do it if you’d like anyways, especially if you are going to marinade the meat. The tenderizer’s textured side will let the marinade soak into the tender cuts, too, so you won’t be hurting the meat if you do decide to tenderize it.
Other meats that don’t necessarily need tenderizing include chicken breast, beef filet, and pork loin. The only reason these cuts don’t need tenderizing is because they are already so thin.
However, you may need to tenderize them to make them a more manageable shape to cook.
According to this website, tenderizing meat can ruin your meat, if not done correctly.
When deciding if you want to tenderize the meat you are getting ready to cook, you need to determine why you are doing it. Do you want the meat to be softer?
Do you want to be able to add flavor or cook it more evenly? This will determine how to tenderize it and which side of the tenderizing mallet you should use.
Remember that this is a quick process, and no good will come from over-pounding it, so pay attention to the thickness and how many puncture holes you are creating. Happy grilling!