Cooking means more than just boiling a pot of water or heating something on a pan that you placed on the stove.
It involves a lot of other things and normally these things are done before the food is evenly cooked. One of these things that you do to food before cooking it is tenderizing.
People will tenderize all types of meat, which includes chicken. In this article, we will go into what tenderizing is before finally going into the top three ways to tenderize your meat.
By the end of the article, you’ll be an expert at tenderizing chicken.
What Is Tenderizing?
When you are tenderizing meat, you are making it easier to eat and cut. By using one of several methods that exist to tenderize the meat, you are destroying the connective tissue.
This tissue is what makes the meat very chewy and tough.
If you are one of those people who enjoy tough meat, then tenderizing might not be for you. It’s more for people who like their meat tender and easy to eat.
How to Tenderize
There are a couple of ways to tenderize meat. We’ve narrowed down the top three ways to tenderize chicken which include using a mallet, marinating it, and finally, cooking it.
In the next section, we are going to go into each of these three methods in detail with instructions on how to do all of them.
The first and easiest way to tenderize your chicken is by using a meat tenderizer. Surely, you’ve seen one before. It’s a mallet that has ridges and is usually made of wood or metal.
These devices are pretty cheap and easy to get your hands on, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one!
To tenderize your chicken using a meat tenderizer, do the following:
- Take your chicken (preferably one that doesn’t have the bone in, or if it is bone-in, you need to remove the bone) and lay it on a cutting board.
- Before you start using the mallet, wrap the chicken in wax paper or some plastic wrap. The reason for this is that when you start hitting it, the juices are going to start flying everywhere. It’ll make a mess, and the last thing you want to be covered in is chicken juice.
- Once this is done, you can start hitting it with the mallet. Keep hitting it until it is as thin as you’d like it to be. By doing this, you are breaking down the connective tissue that makes meat tough.
- Take the chicken out of the plastic wrap and get to cooking!
Don’t spend too long pounding the meat. Believe it or not, you can end up overdoing it and hitting it either too long or too hard.
What you’ll end up with is meat that is a little too thin.
The second method of tenderizing chicken is by using something called a marinade.
When you are putting meat in a marinade, what you are doing is soaking it in some type of acid mixture that will help break down the connective tissue.
You can do this by doing the following:
- First, decide what marinade you want to use in the first place. Common marinades include vinegar, citrus, and wines.
- Put the chicken in some type of container of your choice. Then pour the marinade over it. Consider flipping over the chicken a few times to make sure both sides are soaked in the marinade.
- Keep in the fridge for a minimum of an hour and a maximum of 24 hours.
- After that period is up, take it out of the fridge and out of the container. Now you can start cooking it up however you like! Fry it up on the stove, grill, or in the oven. All of them are legitimate methods for cooking your marinade.
Using this method is going to take longer than if you were using a meat mallet, but the juices that infuse into the meat during this process make the wait entirely worth it.
What you’re left with is a delicious piece of chicken sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater out there.
Slow Cooking the Chicken
Slow-cooking a chicken is a great way to tenderize the chicken. Out of all the methods, this is, by far, the one that takes the longest, but it’s the easiest.
If you have something like a slow cooker or crockpot, all you have to do is put the chicken and all of the ingredients inside. The length of time to cook varies but usually takes a few hours.
Of course, if you don’t have a slow cooker or crockpot, you can use an oven instead.
Doing it in an oven requires you to preheat it to low heat and then put it in for about 2 to 4 hours after you put all your ingredients (including the chicken into the pan.)
When the cooking process is done, consider using a meat thermometer. Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 or above. Anything else is dangerous to eat.
So, this method can take a little while longer, but you don’t need anything extra on hand. All you need is the chicken with some broth to use as something to baste the chicken in.
It doesn’t matter if you choose this method or one of the other two. All of them will get you some delicious, tender chicken in the end.
And there you go, all you chicken lovers out there! Once we explained what tenderizing was, we went into the top three ways to tenderize chicken in the first place.
All the methods have their pros and cons, so go with whatever one you feel works best for you.
We prefer using the meat mallet method, but that’s just our preference. Yours might be entirely different!
In a matter of no time, you’ll be used to tenderizing your meat before cooking it. This is something your taste buds will thank you for.
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