When it comes to grilling meat, many people leave their meat far too tough and don't spend any time tenderizing it to make it soft. Tenderizing your meat gives it the ability to also absorb more of the flavors you cook it in, giving it a perfect taste fresh off the grill. A meat tenderizer will do the trick! Most people associate the quality of the meat with the tenderness of it, but the truth is that so much of the tenderness has to do with how the meat is prepared before the cooking even begins.
Tenderizing meat is basically the process of breaking down the collagens in meat to make it more tender. When it comes to tenderizing your meat, it is best to be prepared with a few different options. This article will explain a few of those options and also show you why papaya is a possible solution to your tenderizing needs.
1. Salt. Salt and baking soda both break down the proteins in meat. When you use kosher salt and let it sit on your meat for about an hour before cooking, the water will be drawn out and the salt will go in. This process tenderizes the meat as it cooks, making it a great assisting process.
2. Marinate. Depending on the type of meat, you can tenderize it using things like wine, citrus juice or vinegar. Some people have even seen success with meat tenderizing using tea and coffee. Tea has tannis and coffee produces natural acids, making this an interesting option as well.
3. Hammer. Every good meat tenderizing hammer has both a flat side and another side with spikes. Deciding which side to use depends on the type of meat you have as well as what your cooking goal is for it. The side with the spikes really tenderizes the meat since it pokes holes through it and tears apart the fibers. Start pounding about a day in advance before cooking your meat to get the most flavor possible.
4. Papaya leaves. Did you know that in India the most common meat tenderizer used is raw papaya and its leaves? Within each and every papaya and its leaves is the Papain enzyme. This enzyme helps in the process of breaking down the connective tissue in meat, making it more tender and softer to chew. When you open a raw papaya, the white substance that comes out is a concentrated part of the Papain. The amount of time that it takes to tenderize depends on the pH factor and the temperature. You can estimate that it will take anywhere from one to two hours to fully tenderize the meat using papaya.
If you are looking for a really tender piece of meat, do it a few more hours as needed. On thin cuts of meat, plants seem to be one of the best choices. Other fruits that can be used as well include pineapple, figs and kiwis. They all break down the tough muscle fibers. Yay for an inexpensive, natural and delicious meat tenderizer.