General Question

2davidc8's avatar

What is the use for a mallet in the kitchen?

Asked by 2davidc8 (4979 points ) June 4th, 2013

I often see mallets among kitchen gadgets for sale in stores. I assume that their main use is to pound steak, pork chops or chicken breasts to make them thinner. But why would you want to do this? What does pounding these cuts of meat do? What other use might there be for mallets?

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28 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

It can tenderise meat that’s likely to be a bit tough. It can also make the meat thinner. So if you were going to cook a schnitzel you don’t want a big, thick chicken breast. So by bashing it with the mallet you can thin it out into and even sheet.

I should say, I’ve never felt the need to bash steak to tenderise it. I try to buy better cuts of meat or if I’m using cheaper cuts, I’ll use it in different ways.

2davidc8's avatar

@Bellatrix Thanks for your answer. But why does bashing it tenderize it?

seekingwolf's avatar

Makes it flatter and thinner and easier to chew. Puts small holes into the meat too which helps.

If I am stuck using cheap cuts of beef, I’ll tenderize them and it makes a difference.

Bellatrix's avatar

It breaks down the fibres in the meat. I’m not sure beyond that @2davidc8. This apparently makes it cook more evenly but makes it easier to chew too.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Bellatrix's avatar

[Mod says…] You are very naughty and this is General.

Nullo's avatar

We have a hammer at work used for driving knives through lamb loin, so there’s that.

bookish1's avatar

Breaking open coconuts.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I use it to tenderize conch, abalone, welk and other fresh shellfish meat. These delicious seafoods are pure muscle and it would be nearly impossible to eat them without thoroughly beating them first.

marinelife's avatar

Breaks down the proteins so the meat is more tender.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@marinelife Is that true? I mean, isn’t separating fibrous material different from actually breaking down the protein? The reason I don’t use chemical meat tenderizers on my food is because I want my protein intact. I carry Accent in the lazarette for protein-based poisons, like jellyfish stings, etc.

ucme's avatar

Other than the extremely helpful & bang on topic suggestions already listed above, there is another, fairly unusual, but no less practical use for the humble mallet.
We use one to bang the candles into the charred husk of a birthday cake “cooked” by the wife…bless, it’s the thought that counts.

bossob's avatar

We keep a dead blow mallet in the kitchen. We use it to tap on a butcher knife to slice through winter squash. It’s safer than using two hands on the knife, and trying to force it.

dxs's avatar

When I’m cooking chicken breasts, I usually pan fry them. The chicken breasts I buy are enormous due to growth hormones or something but only $1.99/lb; I’m a budget shopper, so if I didn’t cut them and put them on the pan, they would take forever to cook and probably wouldn’t cook evenly because they aren’t very flat. Also, it would be weird to eat. If I’m battering them and all, I want an even layer. Cutting them and beating down the thicker areas does just that.

gailcalled's avatar

I use an old wooden French rolling pin but a mallet would do just as well to pound walnut halves (in their Ziplock bag) into small morsels.

Rarebear's avatar

I use it to chase my daughter around the house.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^Before or after you tenderize her?

Rarebear's avatar

^^usually it’s after she beats me in tetherball. :-)

marinelife's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I should have said muscle fibers and collagen. It is chemical tenderizers that break down the proteins.

El_Cadejo's avatar

While we’re on the topic of tenderizing meat… cool tip, if you don’t have a mallet or something to that effect and don’t want to spend all day marinating something, a kiwi works amazingly well at tenderizing.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ How many of us have kiwis routinely in our refrigerators?

El_Cadejo's avatar

@gailcalled I don’t know… I always try and have some around, they taste awesome and are a good quick snack. Then again I generally have a ton of fruit in my house all the time. Pineapples or papaya would work as well since it contains the same enzyme.

gailcalled's avatar

@uberbatman: I do have a fresh pineapple on hand.

2davidc8's avatar

Hey, thank you all for your wonderful answers. OK, so pounding can tenderize meat. Is it sufficient just to pound it to get it to the desired thinness (which doesn’t take long)? It’s hard for me to see how just a few strikes can tenderize anything, but I’ll just have to give it a try!

Now, if you’re trying to make chicken marsala, for example, and you want thin slices of chicken breast, is it better to slice the breasts thinly with a sharp knife, or use a mallet to pound the breasts thin? What do my fellow jellies think?

@uberbatman thanks for kiwi tip. I knew about this property of pineapples and papaya, but not kiwi. In California, kiwi fruit is now available year round, but there was a time when it was not popular at all. In fact, when they first tried to market it here, it was called Chinese gooseberry, and no one bought it. When they renamed it kiwi, sales took off.

@Espiritus_Corvus, @gailcalled, and @bossob thank you for your suggestions to use mallets on shellfish, walnuts and hard squash. I hadn’t thought of that.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@2davidc8 Interesting, I didn’t know that about kiwis. I have found people are funny with food sometimes, very hesitant to try new things. I seem to be the complete opposite, if I see a new fruit/veg/whatever that I’ve never tried I get all kinds of excited :P

Sunny2's avatar

I’ve used mine to help break the seal on a jar lid that won’t succumb to other methods of opening. Also to roll on dried bread to make crumbs, (instead of a rolling pin.)

CWOTUS's avatar

I hope you’re satisfied now. Keep a mallet in your kitchen in case you feel the need to beat your meat.

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