A problem area I've often heard of and experienced myself is toughness with grass-fed meats. No one wants to pay grass-fed, (well-earned by the farmers, I might add), beef prices and be dissatisfied at the end of the meal, and there is a misconception, a huge and costly one, about how marinades can help in that area. Well, from experience, I learned that marinades are made for flavor much more than they are for tenderizing. We may get a mouthful of flavor, yes...but that flavor may go away well before the meat can actually be swallowed.
Some use powdered meat tenderizers. I don't go for them because first of all, they are processed and secondly, some of the ingredients may hinder health via allergic reactions...not only in the future, but almost immediately upon consumption.
Others use aging, which can be great, and I don't have a problem with, IF it's grass-fed, but many find intimidating to attempt on their own because of the risk of contamination. There are ways to avoid this, of course, but our culture has a phobia about it, so I'm shooting for a one-way-to-please-all method. (Is there really such a thing????)
Oh, well, anyway...I think we found the best way, at least for us. To some of you, this won't be news, but to others...it will be exciting.
And here we go again on the milk wagon, because milk is THE tenderizer that rocks!
According to my research, the surprising thing here is that the important ingredient is not the raw enzymes, as I had assumed, but the calcium. It only stands to reason that non-pasteurized, non-denatured milk would be the best choice. Buttermilk is touted as the best, but I have suspicions that this is because the mainstream market is uninformed about whole, raw milk.
We had a couple of grass-fed rib-eyes in our freezer, and frankly, the last time we ate them, we were disappointed, but we didn't try to tenderize them, either. So, we decided this time, to do some research. When I found that many marinades can actually make meats more dense, I delved deeper and repeatedly found that buttermilk, the old 'Southern Way' of tenderizing chicken, can be used to tenderize any meat with great results.(And for those of you not eating grass-fed, this works for you as well.)
There are scientific principles for this, but it's Sunday and I'm thinking that even though it's not rocket science, to decipher them here today is just too much work for my day of rest...So to stick it in a teensy nutshell, the calcium triggers the enzymes in the meat to start working upon the meat. With a little time, all the little nuances within meat that hold it so tightly together, (meat is muscle, after all), have to cry, "Uncle!", and loosen their grip.
We went out with the intent of bringing home buttermilk, got side-tracked, and returned home sans buttermilk. We were both too tired to try again, and decided that we'd give our raw milk a try instead. Our reasoning was that it, being wholly whole, would have everything in it contained in buttermilk. So, this morning, the steak went into the raw milk.
About timing: The denser meats, such as beef and lamb, need only 2-3 hours. We soaked our steaks about four hours, not because we were trying to overdo, but because that's just the way it worked out. These were the same grass-fed cuts from the same farm feeding their cattle the same way as the last time we ate their steaks. And the last time, although we felt good about them being grass-fed, we were disappointed in the texture.
Today, removing our pink-in-the-middle steaks from grill to warmed plates...slicing through butter-like texture...Believe me when I tell you there was no disappointment.
...Silent euphoria split only by occasional "Uuuuummmmms!".