Apart from loins and tenderloins, a common complaint when it comes to cuts of wild game meat (and steaks in particular) is that they can be chewy and tough. Last week my recipe for Belgian Carbonnade made use of a tough elk round steak that was mildly freezer burned. How was I able to make it not just edible, but tender and delicious? Part of it was braising, but more importantly, I had the help of a handy mechanical meat tenderizing tool.
The Jaccard Meat Maximizer cuts through long muscle tissue and collagen that makes meat tough by severing it into short strands. A long-time essential in commercial kitchens, it’s gaining popularity with home cooks, and for good reason. Unlike mallets that flatten and crush the tissue (which can leave it mealy), or acidic marinades that take days to penetrate and break down tissues, the Jaccard is a mechnical tool made up of 16-48 mini, razor sharp stainless steel blades that work instantly and yield wonderfully tender bites from the less coveted cuts of meat.
In addition to severing the long connective tissues, Jaccarding creates channels in the meat that allow rubs and marinades to penetrate quickly, which also reduces cooking times and plate shrinkage.
The tool requires no special skill, and is super easy to use. Simply set the Jaccard on the meat and push. The blades are protected by a retractable, spring-loaded guard that slides out of the way when the knives are pressed into the surface of the meat, and then slides back to protect you from accidental cuts.
Its effectiveness is most apparent on wild game steaks. A quick tenderizing with the tool, a nice rub, or short marinade, the proper cooking, and you’ll be biting into a tender and delicious hunk of meat.
So to sum up, in my experience, a Jaccard Meat Maximizer:
1. Makes even the toughest cuts of meat butter tender
2. Enables quicker and more complete permeation of marinades and rubs
3. Reduces cooking times
4. Promotes even cooking despite uneven thickness
5. Reduces shrinkage of meat during cooking
It costs $20-$35 from Jaccard, depending on how many knives you want.