Cooking techniques that help us relax include kneading bread, stirring risotto, and caramelizing onions. They’re as relaxing as a massage at the end of a long day and are best accompanied by a glass of wine. They are zen; they are yoga in the kitchen.
Then there are the culinary equivalents of a kickboxing class: the hacking, chopping, and smashing that provide a much better outlet for pent-up rage than yelling at your roommates about china in the dishwasher or heaps in the sink. When your inner hulk begins to bubble, reach for your meat pounder.
Once you’ve pounded a chicken beast to piccata-appropriate thinness, don’t put the tool away; use it to pound a few more components into submission and shave off valuable kitchen time. You may utilize this time to do yoga, for example. Alternatively, tai chi. Or, at the very least, consume a glass of wine before the chaos resumes.
Here are nine inventive ways to use your meat pounder:
- Meat is pounded and tenderized: To be honest, this was a no-brainer using meat tenderizer. Cover both sides of your meat (or poultry) generously with plastic wrap and strike evenly to achieve an even thickness. After that, prepare some piccata or schnitzel.
- Bruise garlic: A meat pounder will save you time peeling, mashing, and mincing cloves – and your hands will be free of that post-garlic stickiness and odor. Make your initial strike while the skin is still on, and then easily remove it. If your recipe calls for smashed garlic cloves, you’re done; if it calls for a fine mince or a paste, add a sprinkle of salt and smash away, working the garlic and salt into submission with a bit of a sideways motion.
- Olives being pitted: Because while some believe that performing this task by hand is cathartic, for the majority of us, it is simply a pain in the buttocks. Collect a few olives, give them a good thud! and then quickly remove their pits.
- Ginger is being broken down: Mincing fibrous ginger can be tedious; after peeling and rough chopping, you can finish the task with some smashing. As with the garlic you just assaulted, a sprinkling of salt will expedite the process.
- Spices and peppercorns are crushed: If your spice grinder or pepper grinder is broken or non-existent, you can still do the task using a plastic bag and a blunt instrument. Simply be aware that your bag will most likely tear throughout the procedure, necessitating the storage of your grinds elsewhere.
- Ice crushing: This is the ultimate it’s been a long day and you need to pulverize something before having a drink maneuver: Wrap some ice in a clean tea towel, smack it, and then shatter it.
- Potato mush: You should give potatoes a try if you haven’t already. And you’ll require a meat pounder to accomplish this. After boiling, squashing, and frying, you’ll get flat, crispy rounds of herbed potato bliss.
- Lemongrass is being pounded: By hammering a lemongrass stalk, you can aid in the release of its oils and flavor. If you’re using it as an aromatic rather than cutting or grating it, pound it out and tie it into a knot before adding it to a Thai-inspired soup.
- Nuts can be crushed, pounded, or “chopped”: This is the quickest technique to reduce the size of your nuts. Crowd them together on a clean surface or cutting board and gently pound them; if you’re careless, walnut shrapnel will fly everywhere. Make a point of incorporating these nutty bits into your next ice cream sundae celebration.
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