Just wondering if my meat tenderizer is good for more than just hanging pictures in the absence of my husband’s hammer? In other words, when should I beat my meat? I've always wondered... --Sister, HI
Oh, boy. First of all, my very large adolescent male readership needs to excuse itself for a few minutes. And, while we’re waiting, let me just say that it was very big of you not to mention the coconuts from your own personal coconut grove that you undoubtedly crack open every afternoon with your meat mallet in the absence of your husband’s hammer. I know this took a lot of restraint, and I appreciate it.
Okay, everyone’s back, so now I have to admit that I never use my meat mallet for its intended purpose, either. I have a vague recollection of tapping on some veal for scaloppine in culinary school, but that’s really it. However, I will say that the tool comes in very handy for chasing away nosy engineers. Ones who look very concerned when you’re making dinner and say things like, “Is it supposed to look like that?”
So, to answer your question, I had to call in a few favors. Except that no one owes me any favors (it’s more the other way around), so I just asked nicely at the local butcher shop. Juliana Kolson-Lyman, general manager of Savenor’s in Boston, says cuts of beef like chuck, round, and some flap meats (tongue?) benefit from tenderizing because they come from the parts of the cow that get used the most (shoulders, shanks, the mouths of the chattier cows, etc.). She recommends tapping firmly, but gently, on both sides. Don’t play “Whack-a-Mole,” though, or the muscle will toughen up even more. It's also good for evening out the thickness of certain cuts of meat to promote more even cooking.
Also fair game for beatings, as far as I'm concerned: any meat that talks back, chicken breasts that are a little too full of themselves, whole spices that cop an attitude, or any other food that's been very, very bad.