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Tenderizing Meat for the Grill

chicago maven May 8, 2012 08:53 AM

The meat available today for grilling is not the most tender. Any suggestions on the best way to tenderize steaks for the gas grill?

  1. k
    koshergastronome May 8, 2012 09:21 AM

    What do you mean when you say the steaks aren't tender? If they're "chewy" or "dried out" either try cooking rare to med-rare, or try and buy well marbled beef...especially if you're buying a steak that's fit for the grill, you really shouldn't need to tenderize it

    1. f
      fourunder May 8, 2012 09:26 AM

      It would be helpful if you provided the cuts of meat you prefer. The following beef cuts do benefit from marinades:

      Tri-Tip Sirloin
      Flat Iron / Top Blade
      Chuck Eye
      Top Butt Sirloin
      Top Round

      1. f
        ferret May 8, 2012 09:29 AM

        That's a pretty general statement which I haven't necessarily found to be the case. It really depends on what cuts you're buying. If it's something like a skirt steak, then those should already be scored by the butcher. We usually get them from Romanian and they are always scored. For other cuts you can use a manual method, either pounding, scoring or both.


        A marinade will also help, especially for thinner cuts. Just make sure there's acid in it, either vinegar or citrus juice. For thicker cuts, score, then marinade.

        If you're shopping at a butcher, they will score if you ask, One of our grill favorites is to get a London Broil then have the butcher cut it into 1-inch steaks which are then scored.

        The most important thing is not to overcook. You should sear on high and then lower the temperature until you reach the desired internal temperature (use a meat thermometer). Anything over "medium" (about 145 degrees in the center) will start getting tough.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ferret
          fourunder May 8, 2012 09:48 AM

          The link you provided shows a meat tenderizer which punches/pierces or needles the meat. Is that what you mean by (score), or do you mean the butcher will lightly use a knife to make a criss cross pattern....similar to what is done to squid before cooking?

          The following link shows what type of machine a butcher would use to tenderize cheaper cuts of meat.....also know as Cuber (cube/cubing). This uses actual small blades, rather than needles, but there are also commercial machines with needles(and blades) as well, known as a Jaccard Model Tenderizer.


          1. re: fourunder
            ferret May 8, 2012 10:11 AM

            Yes, by "scoring" I mean running a pattern of holes to mechanically interrupt the muscle fibers. The linked item has short, narrow blades, not needles.

            1. re: ferret
              fourunder May 8, 2012 10:15 AM

              not needles...

              Sorry bout that ....only looked at the picture. :0)

        2. weinstein5 May 8, 2012 10:06 AM

          As others have said it really depends on the cut of meat and how you are grilling - rib eye steaks are very tneder as long a syou do not over cook -you can also control the tenderness by the method of grilling - indirect heat or smoking can make meats nice and tender rather via direct heat

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