A meat mallet, also known as a meat tenderizer or pounding mallet, is a kitchen tool used to tenderize and flatten meat. It typically consists of a sturdy, dual-headed hammer with one side featuring textured or spiked surfaces and the other side smooth.
- Tenderizing Meat: The primary purpose of a meat mallet is to tenderize tougher cuts of meat, such as beef steaks, pork chops, or chicken breasts. The pounding action breaks down connective tissues and muscle fibers, resulting in more tender and succulent meat.
- Flattening and Even Thickness: Meat mallets are used to flatten or even out the thickness of meat pieces, providing consistent cooking times and tenderness. This is especially useful for dishes like veal scallopini, pounded chicken cutlets, or katsu.
- Breaking Down Fibers: The textured or spiked surface of the meat mallet helps break down collagen and muscle fibers in tough cuts, resulting in improved tenderness and juiciness when cooked.
- Promoting Marinade Penetration: By tenderizing meat with a mallet, it creates small channels and indentations on the surface, allowing marinades or seasonings to penetrate more deeply and evenly.
- Crushing or Cracking: Meat mallets can also be used to crush garlic cloves, crack nuts, or crush spices, offering versatility in the kitchen beyond meat preparation