Tough meat from certain muscles or an older animal is often tenderised before cooking. This can be done mechanically using a tenderiser to break the fibres, or biologically, with the aid of enzymes in a marinade. Some fruit, such as papayas, kiwis, figs or pineapples, contain enzymes which are able to split protein molecules. They are used in pieces or as a juice to make meat tenderer. Some supermarkets sell a powdered-form of these enzymes. Marinating meat makes it tenderer and also helps enhance the flavour. A marinade generally contains an acidic ingredient such as wine, vinegar or lemon juice, flavoured with herbs, spices, garlic and oil. Meat is left to soak in this aromatic liquid for a given length of time.
A cut of lean meat requiring a long cooking time is larded beforehand to prevent it from drying out. Larding consists in using a larding needle to insert strips of fatty bacon into different parts of the meat. These strips may vary in size and are seasoned with salt and pepper or marinated in brandy. Barding meat serves the same purpose as larding, but consists in covering the meat to be roasted with a bard, a thin layer of fat. The fat then melts over the meat as it cooks and stops it from drying out.
Snipping the fat along the edge of slices of meat prevents them from curling up when grilled or fried.
Poultry is first flambéed to burn any residual feathers. The preen gland, located at the base of the rump, is removed to avoid any unpleasant bitterness. The bird is then cooked whole or jointed, which determines the cooking time (shorter for joints). Whole, it is either trussed with butcher’s string in order to fasten the wings and legs alongside the body during cooking, or spatchcocked, whereby it is split along the back and flattened. Special care must be taken when preparing poultry to avoid salmonella contamination.