So last week I was preparing a beef vegetable stew and neglected it on the stove. When I returned, the meat had turned unbelievably tough... but then, I remembered my Chinese aunties using baking soda to tenderize their beef broccoli, so I dumped a tbsp of baking soda in, just to see what happened. Voila! Incredible. From hard lumps of cardboard to succulent, thready mouthfuls of beefy goodness. And the baking soda didn't change the quasi-beef bourguignone/red wine flavor of the broth, either. Anyone ever try this, or know why it works?