Tenderizing your meat

You don’t have to beat it, or lend out your meat locker to a boxer.

While I was making some of my more famous minestrone soup, I snapped a few pics for this article on tenderizing meat. I have shared my quick & my simple tenderizing methods with a few people over the years. Some, have had the benefit of tasting the results (lucky them).

The ‘meat’ here will be hoofed. Bovine, porcine, cervine & so on, but mostly the former two.

These two methods can be done with the cheapest of cuts you can find, & have the greatest of results. I know, I did it in a challenge against other cooks (for bragging rights). The challenge was to have the most inexpensive cut of meat you could find. Like flank, skirt or chuck. Marbling does help for flavor, so that was allowed.

I’ll get right into the first one. You use one, 20 oz bottle of Coke (brand) cola per pound of meat (less one sip for the cook). Dice or chop your meat (see the dicing & chopping meat article ). If the fat (marbling) doesn’t make the meat float, you want the cola to over the meat. If your meat floats, stir it around after about 40 minutes.


Put your cut prepped meat into a bowl. I like to use my huge popcorn bowl, when I’m saving my stainless steel one for mixing. Pour the Coke over the meat & let this sit for a minimum of one hour. If you don’t have a very large bowl or pan (get one), use as large as you have. You want as much of the meat covered as possible.

The longer the meat sits in the Coke, the more tender it will be. You can get it to pretty much melt in your mouth once it’s ready to eat.
This isn’t some made up Coke promo, this really works each & every time. Use regular (classic Coke). Drain & rinse the soda off your meat, & prepare it as directed or desired (recipe). Pepsi doesn’t work as well, & if you can find RC cola, you can use that. I would wager that many other cola brands will work well enough, but haven’t tried too many. TBH most of the restaurants I have worked, had Coke in the bar, so it’s nothing, to get as much as you need. Except the cool one, which had Pepsi & I used beer instead.

IF you want to use alcohol to tenderize your meat; listen up.
Red wine with the meat, white wine with the fish. Also goes for marinating. You aren’t going to get as tender a meat with wine, but it certainly will be WAY more flavorful!
To use beer, simply substitute beer for the cola. Works even better, actually. Whether you reserve a sip or two for the cook, is entirely up to you (the cook) ;}).

Additionally, you can use nearly any of the other alcohols to tenderize your meat, but don’t expect them to do as good a job as cola.

Whiskey & dark rum will give red meat an extra flavor boost, & is better if soaked for two hours or vacuum sealed.

Your clear alcohols aren’t going to give you that much tenderizing (pound per ounce) & very little reward for flavor, except maybe for gin.

And we are talking about the ultra premium stuff, not the rock gut. On your dark alcohols, you can use the cheap stuff all day! The only ‘mixer’ alcohol you can get away with, is coffee brandy, schnapps or liquor; & that’s for taste only, & only the ultra top shelf or homemade stuff.

Insider’s tip: For those of you using rum (151 proof or better), light the meat on fire & let the alcohol burn off. The taste is phenomenal.
If you’re doing a steak, here is how I would cook steaks for the wait staff that shared tips.
Use the highest alcohol content you can (151 or better), stab the center of the steak or near the bone & marinate. Vacuum sealing is way faster, of course. Remove the steak & set it on fire, then cook. If you can get high content bourbon or whisky (no E), the flavor will burst in your mouth.


The second method for those who have some time, & is certainly better for dishes where the bone needs to be in place. Like T-bone steaks, lamb chops & so on. Yes, this works great for lamb chops, lamb shank & all of those with out needing to cut/reduce the lamb with turmeric.

Bring your deep sided pan up to temperature. This can be done in an oven or on top of the stove. You want the pan to be about 425 degrees F.
I, like to use two pans when I can, as bringing the single pan backup to 425 is going to burn what was already cooked the first time.

So drop your meat in the pan (A favorite of mine at home is a loaf pan), & let it sear the meat. You can do this with out oil, as the heat will sear the meat & allow you to remove it. For those who are more experienced, you can oil the meat first. DO BE CAREFUL this tends to flare up (FIRE) & certainly smokes. Tastes great, but you need to be careful.

A little more on oiling pans that are going to be heated.
You only need a little coating of oil, so the meat comes off easily. If, your pan is actually 425 DF (degrees F), the meat will come right off the pan.

The oil makes clean up a bit easier, &. . . if your pan isn’t quite up to temp.

Now you may have seen that I didn’t mention putting any rub on the meat before searing it. You don’t have to. If you want it to taste awesome, of course you want to (see article on rubbing your meat) use a rub, let it set in, let the meat get to temp.

Sear the meat for a few moments. If you’re quick enough, you can flip the meat over & get the other side before it cools off too much (or use a second pan). You only want a flash sear, the low cooking will do the rest later. The pan will be very, very hot (duh), & will singe the holding towel or (dare I say?) pot holder.

Now, depending on your recipe, you can add your seasonings to the meat while it’s in your pan. If you rub, it’s rub, sear, rub.

Turn your oven down to 180 for thick pieces & 150 for less than thick (keep a bio therm handy to check the temp of the meat before serving).
Season or flavor your meat, cover tightly with aluminum foil & place into the 180 oven for a minimum of five hours. DO NOT touch or peek at the meat. It has to be left alone for a minimum of five hours.

After five hours, be careful as there will be a whole bunch of delicious juices in there. More if your recipe includes adding wine to the meat. Keep the juices & make an Au Jus, sauce or what have you.

You can do this with nearly any type of meat. It doesn’t have to be cut up or cubed, you can have it as large as your container will allow.

Yes, I have put 30 pound slabs of meat in (food safe) plastic bins & poured cola over it. If you want a hefty work out, try searing a quarter slab of beef in a deep sided sheet pan!


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