Yes yes, we know we’re supposed to line up all our ingredients and tools on the counter before we start a recipe, mise en place and all that. But the time will come when you’re ready to make dinner and you’ll find yourself without one essential tool or another. And when Chicken Piccata, Jagerschnitzel, or Minute Steak are your goal, chances are high you’ll be missing one of these: a meat mallet, or meat tenderizer, depending where you grew up.
Many recipes call for pounding pieces of meat thin for quicker, more even cooking. No meat mallet? No problem. Here are five common household items that work just as well in a pinch.
1. A rolling pin
Makes sense. But what if you don’t have one of those in your back pocket, either? Then choose…
2. An empty wine bottle
…because somehow you always seem to have one of those around.
3. A really heavy novel
Think Anna Karenina, A Tale of Two Cities, or Lonesome Dove. See? Yet another reason e-readers can’t replace books!
4. A large Pyrex or other shatter-proof measuring cup
It even has a handle!
5. A cast iron skillet or other heavy saucepan
Use both hands to avoid wrist injury.
#Protip: Make sure to wrap the meat in plastic wrap, wax paper, or a zip-top bag and place on a cutting board before you commence pounding to keep things tidy.
Two household items NOT to use
1. An actual hammer
It’s too small a surface and will shred or tear the meat (trust me on this).
2. Canned food
More often than not, you’ll wind up denting it. Or your fingers. Game over either way.