How to Make Tough Meat Soft: Tips From a Chef

Tough meat is a serious enough problem that can ruin any dish. However, there are a few secrets that will help you fix even a hopeless situation. Meat is a unique product, which, it would seem, simply impossible to spoil. However, as practice shows, with ignorance of some points, even meat can be cooked badly. To make sure that the meat you cook is always soft and juicy, you only need to know a few important rules.

Make sure the meat is tender

There are several ways to make the meat tender. Meat can be marinated in a marinade depending on the dish you are going to cook.

Mustard is great for softening meat. Rub mustard into the meat and leave it in the fridge overnight. In the morning you can bake the meat in the oven. If you add a spoonful of honey to mustard, you have a wonderful honey-mustard marinade. The meat prepared in this way can be baked or stewed.

Also, the meat will be softer if you rub it with mayonnaise or lemon, or pour a glass of kefir overnight.

Meat that you are going to boil rather than bake can be made softer by adding a few tablespoons of vodka, vinegar, or lemon juice to the broth.

Can you soften meat with baking soda?

Yes, you can. To make the meat soft, baking soda really works. If you have a piece of old tough meat, just rub it with baking soda and leave it in the refrigerator for two hours. Then rinse the meat well and you can cook it.

You can also add baking soda to the broth if you notice during the cooking process that the meat is not soft enough. However, keep in mind that you will have to pour out the such broth.

How to properly slice meat to make it soft when cooking

Do not cut the meat into small pieces. For soft meat, put it in a large cut at once in boiling water and cook it for as long as possible. After a few minutes, reduce the heat to low and simmer under a lid until the meat is tender. This will make the meat juicier, and spices added to the broth will give the meat flavor.

What to add to the broth to make the meat soft

If you bought a bad piece of meat, add a spoonful of vinegar to the broth and simmer the meat on low heat. You can also add a few spoonfuls of lemon juice. The acid will soften the meat fibers and the meat will become softer. You can also add a teaspoon of baking soda to the broth. Keep in mind that in this case, you will have to pour out the broth, as after adding the baking soda or vinegar you are unlikely to be able to use it, but the meat will become much softer.

How to make soft meat for goulash

Goulash is the kind of dish that doesn’t tolerate tough meat. You can make soft meat for goulash with a marinade. Cut the meat into portions and leave it overnight in an acidic environment. As a marinade, you can use kefir, mayonnaise, or a mixture of mayonnaise with mustard and lemon juice. You can also just rub the meat with vinegar or lemon juice. Take the prepared meat to the fridge overnight. In the morning rinse and cook on minimal heat under a closed lid.

Also, note that goulash cooked in the oven will always be more tender than cooked over an open fire.

To keep the meat soft while braising

Stewing is a unique way of cooking meat, in which it is almost impossible to spoil the product. To keep the meat tender when braising, add a few spoonfuls of heavy sour cream or cream to the sauce, reduce the heat to low, and braise the meat until tender under a closed lid.

Meat is tough – what to do?

If the cooked meat turns out tough do not get upset, the situation can be corrected. The main thing is to know what to do if the meat is tough when cooked.

Cut the meat into portions, put it in a baking dish, and pour a 1:1 mixture of water and sour cream. Cover the form with foil and leave it in the oven for one hour at minimum heat.

You can also bake tough meat in the oven on a bed of vegetables. When baked, the vegetables will give a lot of juice and the meat will become softer. But keep in mind that vegetables cook quite quickly, and it will take time for the meat to soften. So braise the meat in the oven only at a low temperature.

What to add to make the meat cook faster

You don’t need to salt the broth to make the meat cook faster. Add salt 10 minutes before the meat is ready.

Also, keep in mind that the meat will cook much faster if you put it in water that is already boiling. If you’re not planning on using the broth for soup, you can add a few tablespoons of vinegar to it. The acetic acid will make the meat cook faster.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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