Can you tenderize meat by running it over with your car?
your most powerful cooking tool has four wheels and probably needs an oil change
I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and that you currently do not have severe diarrhea. That’s pretty much all you can ask for these days. And if you do have diarrhea, I’m sorry. I’m here to turn that brown frown upside down.
Today’s edition of the newsletter is pretty cool, because I did part of my food prep outside of the kitchen, which is new territory for me. In fact, I literally did it right on our street!
People regularly ask me if I would ever consider trying to cook stuff on the engine of my car. The idea is pretty good, but there are a few issues. One, I don’t know jack shit about cars, and two, cleaning scrambled eggs off my sick 2009 Camry’s engine block does not seem like my idea of a good time. Besides, if that shit started burning while I was driving, can you imagine how terrible my car would smell? Picture yourself explaining “engine eggs” to a mechanic with a straight face, and you’ll understand my hesitation. Now if you were to volunteer your car, however..,.,.,.,.,.,…
That being said, I could not stop thinking about a car as some kind of culinary device. I mean, an automobile is an extraordinarily powerful tool. There has to be some way that it’s useful for more than being a receptacle for farts on a road trip.
Then I thought, “Wait, Dannis. A car is fucking huge. What would happen if you rolled over a cheap steak with your sexy, yet reliable, Toyota Camry? Could you transform a cheap cut of beef into a cut that would rival a filet mignon? How about, say, a chicken breast?”
I got a pair of steaks (labeled petite sirloin), and some chicken breasts at the store.
I did not want to be picking out bits of gravel from my steak and chicken after I ran it over, so I first put the meat inside some heavy duty gallon freezer bags.
Then, I put those two meat bags inside the toughest plastic bag I could find, from the stash that lives under our kitchen sink.
I am guessing many of you also store a shitload of plastic grocery bags under your kitchen sink too. We have so many under there that they all fall out every time I need to grab one, causing me immeasurable rage. This particular bag from California Pizza Kitchen is the strongest bag I’ve ever seen. It was like an inch thick and I am pretty sure it could handle 12 large children wrestling in it without ripping.
Apparently a whole flock of birds decided to evacuate their bowels onto my car, so I did too.
Then I looked for a suitable spot on our street so I could start mowing over some beef and some poultry. Thankfully we live in a somewhat industrial area where I could run over meat unmolested, so I did not have to go very far.
Once I found a safe spot, I crumpled up the meat bag and stuck it under my front tire.
Then I drove over it. However, it turns out it’s disturbingly difficult to tell if you’ve run something over with your car. I thought I’d feel at least a tiny sensation when I ran over the meat, but since I didn’t notice anything I let the car roll forward a little too much. When I opened the door to inspect the bag, I’d found I’d not only driven over it, but past it.
So I put the car in reverse and this time I managed to stop right on the meat.
I ran over the meat, back and forth, for a while. I fine tuned my senses, and realized that if I was really concentrating I could actually feel when my car ran squarely over the bag of meat. I decided to keep running over the bag back and forth multiple times until I heard a loud pop. Bingo. One of the bags must have ruptured.
Judging by the visible blood, I think I’d hit some measurable amount of success.
I reached into the California Pizza Kitchen bag and was greeted with meat juice. I immediately touched my face afterwards and got meat juice on my glasses. Classic Dannis! I went inside, got the meat out of the now blown-out Ziploc bags, and examined it on a cutting board next to an unsquashed version of itself.
The top breast in the photo is a normal one, the bottom one is the chicken that I ran over.
As you can see, the one that I drove my Camry over was significantly bigger somehow. It wasn’t as flat as I’d hoped it’d get, but it was definitely sort of swollen.
The steak, however, was a whole different story. I’m guessing you can tell that the car-tenderized steak is the one on the right, considering it became a massive mashed up meat frisbee.
Both of the steaks were relatively similar in size when I first started the experiment, so the difference was pretty hilarious.
I steamed the chicken breasts gently with a touch of salt to see how the texture turned out.
I clearly don’t steam meat very often because I would have already known by now that the cooking process would have made them look disease-ridden.
The control version was a little stringy and dry, just like the photo looks.
The car-tenderized version, however, was a little drier and slightly more tacky in terms of chew.
Turns out Camry chicken is not particularly great, though I do think that if I was making a massive bunch of chicken cutlets for a weird party, using my car might save me some time. I’d just have to drive more violently. Or I could just trade my Camry in for a Hummer and waste an exorbitant amount of gasoline just to run over our future dinner.
I seared off the petite sirloins; the car-tenderized steak is on the left and the control is on the right.
As you can see, the car steak shrank back down almost to its original size once it was cooked. Not that I cooked either steak particularly well, because they were still pretty much raw in the center. I’m the best food writer and chef ever. Do everything I do. You won’t regret it.
The control steak had a pretty solid beefy flavor and was a bit chewy, but that was my fault for undercooking it.
The car-tenderized steak, also cooked rare (more like blue) was somehow chewier than the non-Camry version.
Goddammit. I guess there’s probably a reason why most people don’t pound out their steaks before cooking them. I mean, you’d probably have to bash the shit out of a cheap steak with a sledgehammer to really get it tender, and by then, what’s the point, unless you’re going to turn it into a chicken-fried steak or something? Bummer. I’d hoped I was onto something big, too. At least I got some pretty good pictures.
So I guess my Camry wasn’t as useful of a tenderizing machine as I’d surmised it’d be. That’s okay. We do, in fact, live right by some train tracks, so, I have some pretty good ideas.
Honestly, I thought this would have turned out better, but I’m guessing I need to mess around in my car some more to dial in the process. Don’t forget to share Food is Stupid on social media, I’ve even got a handy little button for you! It helps grow the newsletter, and who knows, maybe someday I’ll win a Pulitzer because of it:
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This week I’m going to keep fucking around with my Camry to try and answer this question: Is running over a chicken with your car better than spatchcocking it? Because I know there’s got to be a good way to use my car to prepare food.
I’m sure your scrolling fingers are worn out by now (this was a lot of pictures), so I’ll say goodbye now. As always, I love you guys (for real!), and I’ll hop into some of your inboxes as soon as I can.