I have a recipe that calls for flattening chicken breasts to 1/4-inch thickness. After I'm done with them, they look like they have been through the shredder. What am I doing wrong? —S.F., Green Bay, Wisconsin
Flattening or pounding meat can serve several purposes. It is typically done for quicker, more even cooking and to produce an attractive appearance. When tender cuts of meat or poultry are flattened, it's best to put them inside a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag or between two sheets of heavy plastic wrap to prevent messy splatters. Use only the smooth side of a meat mallet to gently pound them to the desired thickness. This will prevent the meat from shredding. When tougher cuts of meat need tenderizing, they are pounded with the ridged side of a meat mallet to break up the connective tissue.