The Surprising 1-Ingredient Hack For Incredibly Tender Meat

It works in as little as 30 minutes.

<p>Brie Passano</p>

Brie Passano

Grill masters, we have good news: You don’t have to buy the most expensive cuts of meat to get incredibly tender and delicious results. You don’t have to rely on complicated marinades either. All you have to do is look in your fruit basket.

Believe it or not, fruits can transform meat with incredible natural tenderizing powers. It may seem too simple to be true, but there’s a scientific explanation behind it—and it might just convince you to test out this tenderizing trick tonight.

How Fruit Tenderizes Meat

If you have kiwi, mango, pineapple, or papaya on hand, you can create a one-ingredient marinade that transforms tough cuts of meat, from skirt steaks to pork loins to lamb shanks. The secret lies in the enzymes in each of the fruits: actinidin in kiwi, bromelain in pineapple, papain in papaya, and amylases in mango. Although they’re all different, they perform similarly when introduced to meat.

These high-powered enzymes break down the proteins in the meat, softening the muscle fibers and making the meat more tender, moist, and delicious. Better yet, the fruit provides a subtle sweetness to the meat, which complements the savory, umami flavors of the cooked dish.

This natural hack is shared among cultural traditions around the globe, depending on what fruits are customary in the cuisine. In Southeast Asian cooking, green papaya is especially popular for marinating grilled meats, while in India, Bihari Kabab is commonly prepared with kiwi to make it uniquely tender and aromatic.



How to Marinate Meat with Fruit

To make the simple meat marinade, you need to start with fresh fruit. The natural enzymes don’t survive in heat, so they won’t be active in canned or heat-treated fruits. Also, because each fruit will impart a unique flavor on the meat, pick the fruit that will best complement the final dish. Kiwi and pineapple will be more neutral in taste compared to the sweeter tang of papaya and mango.

Now, you need to cover the meat, and the easiest way is to finely dice the fruit or purée it into a smooth paste. You don’t need that much—just about a tablespoon of fruit per pound of meat, but you want to make sure the cut is totally coated. If you’d like, you can also add spices and lemon or lime juice to the fruit blend for extra flavor.

For the best results, always marinate meat in the refrigerator. It's important to remember that the enzymes in fruit act fast, so tender cuts of meat typically require only about 30 minutes of marinating. On the other hand, you can let tougher meats marinate for up to 24 hours. Just be cautious—letting the fruit work for too long might result in mushy meat.

After the marinade has done its thing, the meat is ready to prepare as usual—but prepare for it to taste more tender and flavorful than it ever has before. So, the next time you go to pick up a pricey cut from the deli counter, save your money, and make a stop by the fruit stand instead.

Read the original article on All Recipes.