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albie

Jaccarding Meat: Tenderizing by Piercing

99 posts in this topic

I've been intriqued by ads recommending the Jaccard Meat Tenderizer, in which a series of pins set in rows purports to tenderize by piercing the meat.

Inasmuch as so many experts advise the use of tongs over forks precisely because the latter causes the loss of flavorful, moistening juices, I'm skeptical as to whether piercing by any method may be beneficial or desirable as an alternative to pounding meat -- (I'm totally against the use of commercial tenderizers).

Have you any experience or comments? These would be greatly appreciated.

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Most high end steak houses Jaccard there meat. You can purchase a decent Jaccarder for about $30 or so. It makes all the difference in the world in a cut like a strip loin or sirloin. Some cuts like tenderloin don't really need it.


Never trust a skinny chef

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I'm totally against the use of commercial tenderizers

It's interesting that the instructions for tenderizers calls for one to pierce the meat before sprinkling on the powder.

Commercial tenderizers contain papain, a "proteolytic" (i.e., breaks down protein) enzyme which actually comes from papayas. It has been used since the 18th century in all sorts of ways besides tenderizing meat. It can help a bee or jellyfish sting and speed wound healing. It's even been found to have some anti-bacterial properties. If you were to simply wrap a tough cut of meat in a papaya leaf overnight, the meat would be tenderized.

Some people are allergic to papain, but that's the only bad thing I've ever heard about it.

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Most high end steak houses Jaccard there meat. You can purchase a decent Jaccarder for about $30 or so. It makes all the difference in the world in a cut like a strip loin or sirloin. Some cuts like tenderloin don't really need it.

I'm curious: what's your basis for saying this? I have a hard time believing that a "high end steakhouse" is poking its dry aged prime beef full of tiny holes to tenderize it. My own personal experience in cooking dry aged prime beef, and even lesser grades/treatments, has also demonstrated that such treatment is not necessary for a strip, sirloin or similar "steak cut" of beef. I've certainly never cooked a strip steak from Lobel, Citarella or Fairway and found myself thinking it wasn't tender enough.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I'm totally against the use of papain-based tenderizers, because they give your expensive meat the texture of spam.

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I've been intriqued by ads recommending the Jaccard Meat Tenderizer, in which a series of pins set in rows purports to tenderize by piercing the meat.

I would be concerned about driving surface bacteria into the interior of the meat which may not reach a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria. I don't see a problem with brisket, where the interior is going to reach close to 200F. A rare steak, on the other hand...

Jim

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FWIW, I have one of these, and I use it for brisket, to improve the penetration of the rub (unscientific), and when I'm cooking a marginal steak cut like chuck steak. I think of it as the DIY method to get a cube steak or minute steak that's been put through the mechanical tenderizer. On the unit I have, they're not so much needles as very narrow (less than 1/8th inch) knives. It's probably most effective when the fibers can be cut shorter (against the grain), as opposed to going into the end grain of a steak. The trade show demos usually use cubes of meat that are attacked from many random angles. Kabobs might be a good test.

As far as juices, I think it's less of an issue when pierced raw, rather than during cooking, when the juices are excited and would flow out.

I don't use it for NY steaks, rib eyes, etc, because I figure I'm paying for the meat to be naturally tender, and I'm already going to be cutting the meat against the grain to eat it.

~Tad

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I'm totally against the use of papain-based tenderizers, because they give your expensive meat the texture of spam.

Yes, but you wouldn't need to use it on expensive meat, would you.

Also, the instructions call for you to sprinkle it on just before cooking.

For the record...I have a jar of tenderizer that's been sitting in the pantry for, oh maybe 8 years...seldom used...so I'm not trying to beat that drum.

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I'm totally against the use of papain-based tenderizers, because they give your expensive meat the texture of spam.

Yes, but you wouldn't need to use it on expensive meat, would you.

Also, the instructions call for you to sprinkle it on just before cooking.

For the record...I have a jar of tenderizer that's been sitting in the pantry for, oh maybe 8 years...seldom used...so I'm not trying to beat that drum.

I wouldn't use it on cheap meat easier, just cook it rare so it won't get tough and slice it more thinly. Even brisket is tender and flavorful this way. But I admit that the reason I'll never use it again (aside from the fact that I see no need of it) is bad experiences with commercially softened meat.

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Take the same cut of Rib eye try it with and without and you will be sold. It's take a rib eye and makes it into tenderloin. I do wash all my meat before using it but that's just me.

And yes I have personal experience with high end steak houses uses a Jacarder.


Never trust a skinny chef

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And yes I have personal experience with high end steak houses uses a Jacarder.

What's your definition of a "high end steakhouse?" Are we talking Peter Luger, Wolfgang's, Sparks, Berns, et al. or Ruth's Chris, Zentner's, Shula's, Gibson et al.?

I would be shocked to learn that the former are using a Jacarder.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I'm having an "aha!" moment.

A few months ago, a new steakhouse opened around the corner. Timberline, which I'm sure is a franchise operation.

Anyway, stopped by for a quick mid-week dinner. I ordered a steak and to my surprise, the texture was terrible. It was like eating pre-digested meat! I wondered what in the world they had done to the piece of meat. Even sent in my comment card...and they sent me back a coupon for buy-one-get-one free dinner!

I think they smushed it or papain-ed it. And for the record, I would NOT consider this a high-end steak house.

Here in Kansas City, Plaza III or Ruth's Chris are best. Even Hereford House isn't as good as it used to be, in my opinion. Have had some tough steaks there on the last few visits.

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I'm having an "aha!" moment.

A few months ago, a new steakhouse opened around the corner. Timberline, which I'm sure is a franchise operation.

Anyway, stopped by for a quick mid-week dinner. I ordered a steak and to my surprise, the texture was terrible. It was like eating pre-digested meat! I wondered what in the world they had done to the piece of meat. Even sent in my comment card...and they sent me back a coupon for buy-one-get-one free dinner!

I think they smushed it or papain-ed it. And for the record, I would NOT consider this a high-end steak house.

It's nothing they did to the meat at the restaurant. Central procuring for the chain undoubtedly buys truckloads of frozen, pre-portioned, fabricated, ultratenderized meat to assure uniform product nationwide.

If you saw the ads in food service magazines, you'd blanch.

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Well, yuck! I've never had anything like it, before or since.

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I use a similair tenderizing gadget for london broils/flanks. I poke it, marinate it, and then grill it for fajitas, thai beef salads, etc.

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And yes I have personal experience with high end steak houses uses a Jacarder.

What's your definition of a "high end steakhouse?" Are we talking Peter Luger, Wolfgang's, Sparks, Berns, et al. or Ruth's Chris, Zentner's, Shula's, Gibson et al.?

I would be shocked to learn that the former are using a Jacarder.

When I worked for Shula's I know they cooked and served up Jaccarded beef, I think from Buckhead Beef. I'm a wee bit hazy on the "Buckhead Beef" thing as I remember the name being in the conversation but was also in comparison to another Florida beef purveyor.

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hey..buckhead beef is right down the street from me.

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I saw this thread, and was very skeptical, but intrigued enough that I bought a Jaccard today, and did the experiment with two Spencer steaks (i.e. boneless rib eye). One was USDA Prime, the other USDA Choice. In each case I used the Jaccard on half of the steak (right side), and left half of it alone. I cooked them to medium rare under a broiler.

I expected the Jaccard to produce a bad, artificial texture, like cube steak or various pounded steaks. In fact, this is why I had never bought one prior to this thread. But in actual fact this is NOT the case - the Jaccard pierces the raw meat, but the holes seal up and it is very difficult to tell that it has been done.

The Choice steak un-Jaccard side was easy to tell from anything else. It was much tougher - not tough when compared to other cuts, but much tougher than anything else.

The Jaccard side of the Choice steak was similar in texture to the un-Jaccarded side of the Prime - very tender. As one of the posts above says, it is probably similar to tenderloin / fillet mignon in tenderness. Of course that is very subjective, and typically the cut is different. But it was plenty tender.

The Jaccarded side of the Prime was somewhat more tender than the un-Jaccarded side. It would still be worth using the Jaccard, IMO.

No substantial juice loss occurred while cooking.

Flavor wise, it was easy to tell the Prime from the Choice - the higher fat content tells you there is a difference. However, in terms of texture and tenderness it wolud be not that hard to be fooled, and if you didn't have the A/B test to compare to Prime I think you'd find that the Choice was pretty good.

Note that the Prime was $19.99 a pound, versus $12.99 for Choice at this particular retail supermarket. So this is a pretty worthwhile transformation economically speaking...

In a roast version of a Rib Eye / Spencer (AKA "prime" rib), the Jaccard might make some difference, but the blades are not long enough to go all the way thorugh, so I wonder. Usually if you cook roast beef for a long time at low temperature and slice thin, it is plenty tender - much more so than a the rib eye steak version of the same meat which is usually cooked quickly.

Anyway, I have always been very skeptical of meat tenderizing devices because I thought they were just a way to use an inappropriate cut of meat.

But I was WRONG, and the other people posting here were correct - the Jaccard really does tenderize a steak very effectively. I would even use it on Prime meat (rib eye and New York Strip), and certainly on Choice.


Nathan

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Interesting.

I was chatting with our chef and he chuckled about this thread. In his years of experience (and he came from the Ritz Carlton) most restaurants are all purchasing aged, jaccarded steaks, with exception to filet mignons.

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Yes, very interesting. Thanks for testing it out, nathan!

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I recently bought a jaccard and have been wondering what to use it on. I also am unclear on how many pushes one might use on a particular piece of meat.

For example, I have a single row jaccard with 18 blades. How many pushes would I use on a typical 1 in thick 16 oz ribeye? How many passes on a half pork loin? Is there a point at which it is overkill and adversely affects texture?

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I have used the smaller commercial versions, with 3 rows of blses,and have one at home with the single row of blades, and have seen the "monster version" at meat packing plants, which would make Fredy Kruger green with envy.

All in all I've got mixed feelings about it.

It works, and it works well, no doubt about it.

But frankly, I'm scared (blank)-less about cross contamination. A similiar device and method is used to treat blue cheeses with mold, and the thought of all of that surface area of those needles entering an un-molested piece of meat--which may or may not be cooked med- rare, tightens up the ol' sphincter muscle.

Becasue the device is spring loaded, aprox 1/4 of the blade is covered by the plastic guard at any time. I've sanitized teh guy in commerical hi-temp d/washers, tied a string around it so the tips are exposed and washe it again, doused it in sanitizing solution, but I'm still worried about the sanitizing aspects of the device.

And then I've used it in combination with vacuum packing for marinating meats (particularily satays) and have been pleased with the results.

Tender meat is achieved by good cattle ranching proceses, good slaughtering techniques, and, mainly, with good marbling througout the meat.

So yes, I can take a N.Z. grass fed- striploin with virtually no marbeling, take the meager fat cap off, remove the thick silver skin, porition out steaks, jaccardize them, and laugh all the way to the bank. And I have done that too, but I wasn't charging much for it, and I was making no claims to the pedigree of the steak. Didn't feel right, so I stopped it.

Used to go through a lot of top rounds for R.B sandwiches too, but I never jaccardized, took grain fed Grade A removed the deckel, trussed it with additional fat, and roasted it, then when cold sliced it on the slicer. A decent product for a decent price. Deckels were used for stew, or rolled up, trussed, and braised.

A lot of talk for one conslusion:

Mixed feelings about it..........

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The various claims that piercing meat while raw is OK, but not while cooking (not OK) are bogus; do not pierce the meat at all, ever, if you are trying to retain juices: personal experience, not theory. Remember, searing does not seal the surface.

Those "high-end restaurants" being referred to must be of the "Rustler" ilk. That's how they tenderized their awful (and cheap) meat to make it edible. Let's hear from the staff of ANY quality place that they do that now.

Ray

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The various claims that piercing meat while raw is OK, but not while cooking (not OK) are bogus; do not pierce the meat at all, ever, if you are trying to retain juices: personal experience, not theory. Remember, searing does not seal the surface

I'm not sure what your personal experience is with piercing meat but strongly suspect it didn't involve a Jaccard.

We are not talking theory here. Many people up thread were sceptical about the process but willing to try it out. Look especially at the one by NathanM, who is a converted sceptic.

I first tried the Jaccard on his recommendation from the sous vide thread. Does it leak more fluid than unjaccarded steak? Not at all. Is it a juicy, tender, piece of meat after cooking? Sure is. I'll also add another: it seems to require less resting than conventionally cooked meat.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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