Is it a good idea to poke holes in the meat in your kitchen? There are a few reasons you might want to poke holes in your meat as you’re cooking it. In this article, we’re going to break them down and explain everything!
In general, should you poke holes in meat before cooking?
As with most questions about cooking and food, there’s no one answer for this one. While the general consensus is no, there’s always a lot of anecdotal evidence about different reasons why you may or may not choose to poke holes in meat before cooking it.
As I said above, the general consensus is no. This is because, during the cooking process, a lot of juices will be produced by meat. Really, you want to keep those juices within the piece of meat that you’re cooking, and poking holes will lead to the loss of those juices. Therefore, if you don’t poke holes, you won’t lose all that flavor.
Should you poke holes in steak before marinating?
Annoyingly, this is another question where people disagree on the answer.
People that argue that yes, you should poke holes in steak argue that poking many small holes will allow the marinade that you’re using to penetrate deeper into the meat. This would mean that any flavor in the marinade which you want to preserve during cooking would be present throughout the whole piece of steak.
On the other hand, people argue that poking holes in a steak or any piece of meat will allow juices to run out of the food. Be it marinade or juices produced during cooking, and those liquids will be packed with flavor, so keeping them is ideal.
Generally speaking, it’s tough to come to a conclusion. One thing that people do seem to agree on, however, is scoring steak before cooking. While this may not mean that you get thorough marinade penetration, scoring steak with a fork and then rubbing with a paste or spice blend can help to introduce new flavors into the steak really well.
Why is my meat tough and chewy?
Generally, the reason that your meat is tough and chewy is that it’s a bad cut, or it’s a little old. However, there are definitely ways to solve that problem! The best ways to tenderize meat are to physically tenderize it or to cook it low and slow.
Physically tenderizing meat is the old go-to for many chefs, and that’s because it works reliably well. For tough cuts, a meat mallet can help to break down muscle fibers in the steak. Of course, pounding the steak into oblivion isn’t the best course of action, but gently pounding it with the rough edge of a meat mallet will do the trick. If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can instead use a knife or fork to score the steak’s surface into a crosshatch pattern or poke some tiny holes in the meat.
More expensive meat cuts can be fried quickly for a faster meal, but cheaper, tougher cuts may need a longer cooking time. A good idea could be to slowly roast a cut of beef or pork for several hours or even invest in a slow cooker. When you cook meat slowly in this way, the collagen present in the muscle fibers breaks down really well, leaving you with a tender texture.
Does stabbing steak with a fork tenderize it?
Stabbing steak with a fork can tenderize it, though it isn’t a substitute for getting the hang of cooking a steak well.
The reason that stabbing steak can help to tenderize it is that you’re inadvertently cooking many, many small steaks that you’ve made by separating the meat with a fork. These smaller pieces of steak will cook in a much shorter time, leading to a more tender steak overall.
What’s the best way to tenderize steak before cooking?
There’s only one way to do this properly, and that’s to use a meat mallet. Meat mallets generally have two sides to the head, one spiked and one flat. Use the spiked side to hammer the steak completely, and then flip and do the same on the other side. This will tenderize the meat and make sure that it cooks in a shorter time, too.
When choosing a meat mallet, choose a sturdy mallet like this one:
Should you poke holes in chicken when marinating?
Generally speaking, this isn’t a great idea. While you will get deeper penetration, the marinade is likely to come out of the chicken during the cooking process.
What you can do instead is remove any layers of fat and skin from the chicken before marinating. It makes much more sense to have the parts of the meat that you’ll eat in contact with the marinate that have them be separated by a layer or two of skin and fat.
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