What is the point of pounding meat? Mostly, it’s tenderizing. “Beating meat quite simply begins the process of digestion,” explains FoodFuser. “Muscle fibers are bundles of strongly wrapped cables, a feature that engineers of suspension bridges have long adopted. The more I can break those cables down, the more comfortable my chewing.” This is especially helpful with tougher cuts of meat, which are often at once cheaper and more flavorful than more naturally tender cuts. “Just butterflying the chicken breast (or using a scaloppine of veal or pork) will never get you one as tender as one that has been lovingly pounded,” says ttoommyy.

“You can actually feel the tenderizing process of the meat as you pound,” says jfood. But beware—it’s messy! Use plastic wrap, or Alkapal offers this tip: “Pound the meat inside the heavy plastic sleeve left over from a box of breakfast cereal. I save mine for this very purpose.”

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