The Best Ways to Tenderize Steak

Not that our steaks really need any extra help in this department people always ask:

How do you tenderize steak? Inside this guide you will discover key strategies to transform even the chewiest cut of beef into fall-apart-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

Read on to find out how to make steak tender this summer.

Beat It

Grabbing a weapon and taking out your frustrations on a piece of meat while humming a Mickael Jackson classic conjures up a satisfying image! Using a mallet to break down protein molecules into chewable-sized particles is an effective way to tenderize steak. However, pounding meat into submission can be too potent – resulting in a pulverised gloop.

  1. The secret to success lies in mechanically tenderizing with the right tools:
    • A hammer-type meat tenderizer has a flat side for flattening chicken fillets or veal cutlets; and a textured side for tougher cuts.
    • A bladed meat tenderizer uses up to 50 sharp needles to pierce the meat, creating pockets that absorb marinade and juices.
    • If you have neither, a rolling pin or cast-iron skillet will do.
  2. Choose a cutting board that can be thoroughly sanitized in the dishwasher or wrap the meat in wax paper or cling film to prevent contamination.
  3. Start in the center and move outwards. Use a pressure that is firm enough to break down the tough connective fibers but not the softer meat tissue.
  4. Turn the now tender meat over and repeat.

Marinate with Acid

What is meat tenderizer? Drawing on science and biology, meat tenderizers are naturally derived acids or enzymes that break apart the amino acids that link to form the protein molecules of meat’s muscle and connective tissues.

One of the best meat tenderizer methods is to marinate the meat. Not only does a tenderizing steak marinade imbue aromatic flavour, but the acidic ingredients in it also denature connective proteins in the meat. Regular or apple cider vinegar, wine or beer, lemon or lime juice, buttermilk or yogurt contain tenderizing acids.

As well as acid, enzymes found in fruits like pineapple, kiwi, mangoes, and papaya disrupt the molecular structure of meat’s connective tissue. Adding puréed fruit to your marinade turns tough and chewy meat tender and juicy.

Again, you want to soften the steak, not reduce it to an unappetizing mush. So be mindful of the length of time the meat has been sitting in the marinade. Set a timer for 30 minutes and check whether the edges of the meat look cooked. Generally, it is not advisable to marinate for longer than two hours. (Be particularly cautious when using pineapple as its bromelain enzyme is powerful.)

Salt It

When thinking about how to tenderize beef, you need look no further than your pantry or kitchen counter. As counterintuitive as it may seem, salting is a straightforward method of tenderization. When used correctly, salt does not cure or dry out your steak.

The magic happens when the correct type of salt* is used for just the right amount of time**:

  1. Choose a cutting board that can be thoroughly sanitized in the dishwasher or wrap the meat in wax paper or cling film to prevent contamination.
  2. Prepare a bed of *coarse sea salt or kosher salt the size of your steak.
  3. Place the meat on the bed and completely cover it with kosher or coarse sea salt. You can rub it in or just let it sit for approximately **15 minutes (or up to 45 minutes for thicker cuts).
    • The salt breaks down the muscle fibers and connective tissue to maximize the tenderness and texture of the steak. Being a coarse variety, it also draws out and dissolves some of the juices of the meat. This brine is then reabsorbed, tenderizing and enhancing the flavor of the steak.
  4. Thoroughly rinse off the salt and pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Properly drying the steak ensures a crispy sear once you cook it.

Place your order today or contact Chophouse Steaks for more information about how to tenderize steak.