How To Flatten Meat Without A Mallet, According To Ree Drummond
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How To Flatten Meat Without A Mallet, According To Ree Drummond

Dec 25, 2023

Every once in a while, as a home cook, it pays to take a look around the kitchen and re-evaluate your prep area. What really needs to be there? What "sparks joy," in the words of Marie Kondo, and what should be 86'ed in the name of practicality and space? While seldom-used kitchen gadgets and appliances with huge footprints come to mind, utensils can clutter up drawers quickly, and nothing is worse than the meat mallet. Also known as a meat tenderizer, it's a culinary hammer with a flat side and a toothy side. It's helpful for food prep, but unfortunately, it consumes essential real estate in the kitchen.

Fortunately, "The Pioneer Woman" Ree Drummond — the queen of cozy comfort food — has devised ways to flatten meat without the use of this ungainly instrument. There are other ways to pound and tenderize meat in less physical ways. While the mallet itself might seem obsolete, there will come a time when you come across a recipe that calls for your meat to be pounded out. Here's why and how you should learn the alternative technique if you don't want to keep a meat mallet handy.

Whether it's done with a tool or an enzyme, tenderizing is a way to break down tough muscle tissue and make the texture of the meat softer. This may be warranted for inexpensive cuts of steak to improve their quality, but a literal pounding is also necessary for other meats to achieve a thin, even-cooking cutlet. Food Network explains that tenderizing benefits cuts such as beef chuck, bottom round, London broil, brisket, flank steak, hanger steak, skirt steak, and tri-tip.

You can start off by placing your meat between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap — this is a non-slip, mess-proof surface for the pounding. Ree Drummond told Delish in an interview that she'll "use anything as a mallet," including her cast iron skillet, a rolling pin, or even heavy cans. Some of the recipes on her website recommend using the heel of your hand.

Regardless of how you smash, don't do it on a delicate countertop or a cutting board that could split on you. Also, try to avoid pounding near kitchen hazards, like lit stoves and knives. Should you desire to add a meat tenderizer to the lineup, Ree Drummond's branded cookware line does include one.

Flattening meat allows it to crisp up nicely, as in schnitzel. Schnitzel, in particular, is a meat cutlet that you pound flat, bread, and fry — popularized in German-speaking locales. It can be made with veal (known as Viennese Wienerschnitzel), chicken, pork, or red meat. Good Housekeeping's pork schnitzel on stroganoff noodles combines crispy breaded cutlets and creamy pasta.

Ree Drummond also uses pork schnitzel in her irresistible pork schnitzel sandwich recipe. Drummond's easy chicken piccata is a great way to hone your flattening technique — afterward, you can graduate to her chicken Milanese. However, you'll need double-tenderized cube steak for Drummond's chicken fried steak — a Southern favorite with rich white gravy. For the ultimate in tenderness, her rendition of classic Steak Diane calls for flattened filet mignon. Once you've mastered the art of pounding out meat, you'll be able to get the cutlets your recipes need in seconds flat.