Modifying Texture Before and After Cooking

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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There are a number of traditional techniques that tenderize tough meat before cooking, so that the cooking itself, and the drying of the muscle fibers, can be minimized. The most straightforward of these is to damage the meat structure physically, to fragment the muscle fibers and connective-tissue sheets by pounding, cutting, or grinding. Pieces of veal pounded into sheets (escalopes, scallopini) are both tenderized and made so thin that they cook through in a moisture-sparing minute or two. Grinding the meat into small pieces creates an entirely different sort of texture: the gently gathered ground beef in a good hamburger has a delicate quality quite unlike even a tender steak.