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I know people sometimes pound their meat. I never do, and I am interested in what I am missing out on. Basically it comes down to a three part question:

  1. Why is meat pounded, what is the result that one wants? I'd be happy to learn both the gastronomical purpose, and what really happens do the meat (fibres etc)

  2. What types of meat should I pound? What types would possibly be a bad idea to pound?

  3. What should I think of when pounding to get a good result?

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What should I think of when pounding to get a good result? - Puppies. –  hobodave Aug 2 '10 at 17:49
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huh.huh. pound. meat. huh.huh. –  yossarian Aug 2 '10 at 17:57
    
I edited the title because the original was just begging for jokes... as we've witnessed. :P –  Aaronut Aug 2 '10 at 19:10
    
I think it is still begging, perhaps "What types of meat should I hit with a mallet and why?". Also, I'm going to change the pounding tag to the broader preparation tag, I'm not sure we need a category specifically about pounding. –  ManiacZX Aug 2 '10 at 19:45
    
Sorry about the spurious rollback. The [preparation] tag is all over the map and even I'm getting confused about what it's actually for. This was really the original intent of that tag. –  Aaronut Aug 2 '10 at 19:57
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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted
  1. Meat is pounded as a mechanical means of tenderizing by damaging the connective tissues. It also makes the meat thinner and flatter, which helps the meat cook faster and more evenly.

  2. Pound tougher meats (cheaper steaks), and meats of uneven thickness (chicken breasts). Avoid pounding the bones in the meat. You don't want little pieces of bone chipping off into meal. Don't pound already tender pieces (premium cuts, dry aged steaks).

  3. Think tenderize, not pulverize. You should not be making any holes in it.

If you're going to marinate, do that after pounding.
Wrapping the meat in wax paper first will help prevent a big mess. Do both sides of the meat.

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regarding 1, pounding it thinner is sometimes done for wrapping the meat around ingredients. Cordon Bleu is a classic example of this, not so easy to get a normal chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese. Pounding it out makes it more pliable and has a larger surface area. –  ManiacZX Aug 2 '10 at 19:15
    
I've read you should pound veal with the bottom of a pan but not with a hammer-like meat tenderizer, because it would destroy the structure and make the meat chewy. –  user4765 Apr 18 '11 at 15:40
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People pound their meat to tenderize it. Any meat (chicken too) can be pounded really, but people tend to do steak because it's tough. You can also use meat tenderizers to soften the meat up. In terms of when it is enough, that's not so cut and dry.

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