Improving the Tenderness of Tough Cuts of Beef

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There are seemingly infinite amounts of suggestions to improve the flavor of beef, but hardly any for improving the tenderness of beef. There are a different tips circulating online, but which ones actually produce consistent results? Many people know the traditional methods of marinating and tenderizing, but is there a way of consistently turning cheap cuts of beef into something more tender and delicious?

For most people that can’t afford to buy high quality cuts on a regular basis, it may be entirely possible to upgrade the quality. Whether it’s a chuck, flank, tri-tip, shank, sirloin, brisket, skirt, or any other cut, applying a few easy tips may help save your jaw muscles from the brink of exhaustion. Nobody enjoys a chewy, leathery piece of meat, so give these methods a try and you may soon be suggesting them to others. While these methods won’t turn a cheap cut into A5 Wagyu, you may be pleasantly surprised in the overall improvement.

Most Consistent Methods For Improving the Tenderness of Beef

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If you have the patience, dry aging is an amazing option to improve the overall taste and texture of beef. This method has become popularized lately because it generally works really well. No matter what cut it may be, dry-aged is usually better. Thicker cuts are more suited for dry aging. All that’s needed is patience and the correct conditions to age. It’s important to have proper temperature control and a sterile environment.

A cooling rack is needed so air will circulate and dry age the steak evenly. It’s definitely not a good idea to putting a random piece of meat in your fridge with one side up, one side down. Familiarizing yourself with dry aging before trying it is critical to getting the best results possible. The time needed will depend on the thickness of the cut, but anywhere from 15-30 days is the norm.

Pineapple & Papaya Marinades

For those that don’t want to bother with dry aging, papaya and pineapple marinades are amazing options for tenderizing steak. Beef lovers that experiment with dozens of methods usually rate pineapple or papaya as some of the best. More people have shown slight favoritism towards pineapple over papaya when it comes to the final taste and tenderness. One study proved this by showing the effects of pineapple on protein.

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Using a blender to mix a freshly cut (not canned) portion of pineapple with a small amount of papaya skin will give you both bromelain and papain. These enzymes work to break down the fibers and collagen of the beef in only 60 minutes. This method is one of the most successful ways of improving the tenderness of beef. It’s important not to leave the meat in the marinade more than that or it may turn slightly mushy. Rinse off the marinade well, dry the steak, and season afterwards.

Dry Salt Brine

This method is somewhat of an expedited dry age for those that don’t want to wake weeks for improved steak. It’s extremely simple, inexpensive, and produces good results. A cooling rack is needed for this method. The most important aspect of a dry salt brine is the timing it is left in the refrigerator. Place any type of steak on a cooling rack after salting it on both sides.

Using a higher quality salt may help to enhance the final results, although nothing too extravagant is required. Don’t salt steaks too heavily, just slightly more than any type of precooking amount. Leave it on the salt rack for 24 hours, and it’s ready to go. Don’t be tempted to let it sit for more than 1 day, results will suffer. Many people try a longer salt brine and it completely botches the results. Sticking to this 1-day rule should help yield a more tender, upgraded steak no matter what cut of meat. These methods are some of the most consistent at improving the tenderness of beef.