Cooking a good piece of meat isn’t just about the proper heat or the perfect grill. Even the toughest cuts of meat can be turned into juicy meals with the right techniques. Scoring is a simple one of these techniques, and just requires a knife and some knowledge. Scoring is purely cutting small, uniform gashes in the surface of a piece of food before cooking- in this case, a protein. Scoring is not the same thing as tenderizing, though it can produce similar results - tenderizing is just a charming consequence of scoring. Simple scores are made manually, with a sharp knife.
3 Reasons To Score:
1. The cuts help to ensure thorough and uniform cooking because more surface area of the meat is now exposed after it’s been cut into. The marked portion of the meat ends up cooking a bit faster, which helps in not overcooking the precious insides.
2. To flavor and tenderize. The open cuts service our marinades and seasonings and help them riddle through the fat to reach the muscle meat, which is important for relaxing the meat and adding flavor. The cuts allow the liquids or spices to absorb deeper into the protein and distribute quicker. Don’t, however, cut deep enough to hit the muscle. The point is to encourage the marinade to get there on its own, safely and softly. Try shoving a few pure, smashed garlic cloves into steak scores for insane flavor.
For poultry: scoring is also good for skin-on proteins, such as duck or chicken. Since skin typically traps in flavor, the marks allow the fat under the skin to release and spread the good flavor word. Just be careful that your cuts aren’t too wide or you’ll end up losing more flavor than gaining.
3. Marks on meat are appealing to the eyes. Whether it’s grill char or marks we’ve manually etched with a knife – it basically barks, “I am tasty and have been taken care of!”
Cut several gashes about 1 inch apart over the entire surface of the meat using a sharp knife, then turn and move the other way to create a crisscross or diamond pattern. Make cuts that are uniform in both length and depth. The best way to apply marinade or seasoning is by getting a little messy and manually rubbing it into the cuts.