How to Tenderise Your Meat Without a Mallet

How to Tenderise Your Meat Without a Mallet
Photo: Claire Lower

I am a fan of pounded meat. Whether it’s a chicken breast that’s been thwacked into tender submission or a crispy breaded pork schnitzel, I am delighted by the flat, supple results one gets from the application of a little violence. Most people prefer to pound their meat with a dedicated meat mallet or tenderiser, but specialised hardware isn’t necessary. You can use a wine bottle.

Actually, any blunt, heavy object will do ” I usually use the heavy metal soup ladle I took from my grandmother’s kitchen, but not everyone has one of those. A full wine bottle is much more commonplace (and it can double as a rolling pin). And yes, it does need to be a full bottle; not only do you need that extra mass for flattening purposes, but banging an empty glass bottle on anything ” even chicken ” could be a recipe for a particularly sharp and painful disaster. If you don’t have a full wine bottle, try a mostly full whiskey bottle, or that bottle of weird liqueur or that flavoured vodka you took one sip of and then decided you didn’t like. (If you are super worried about banging any type of glass on any type of surface, hold the bottle vertically and hit your meat with its base, rather than its side.)

To prevent contaminating your wine (or liquor) bottle with meat juices, skip the parchment paper and slip your meat into a plastic freezer bag, then pound away, rotating as needed, until you have a flat little cutlet. Once your meat is about 2 cm thick (or whatever thickness your recipe calls for), you can cook it up, or add a marinade right to the bag.

While your meat is marinating, go ahead and open that bottle of wine and enjoy a glass or two. I think this technically makes wine a multi-use kitchen item, and we love those.