LEM Clamp-On Meat Tenderizer

When it comes to eating meat, filet is passé. Give me all of the cheaper cuts: flank, tri-tip, skirt steak, etc. You can cry about them being tough, but there's a reason that butchers consider them a special secret. When handled properly, they provide far more flavor for half the cost.

LEM's new clamp-on tenderizer promises to prep these cuts so that you're not digging tough chunks of meat out of your teeth after dinner. Think of it as a punk-rock pasta machine. Meat is fed between spiky, studded hand-cranked rollers until it's broken down into a thin, tender sheath. Once it's dimpled, and its connective tissue is broken down, the flesh is a virtual sponge for flavors. We saw how the tool fared when prepping a package of blade steaks from the local butcher.

Positive (+)

This is a no frills industrial tool. Set up and operation is a no brainer: twist a bottom screw to clamp the machine to your countertop, and then crank the handle to process the meat. A neon orange plastic cover protects your fingers from getting caught between the hazardous rollers, and a single stainless steel sleeve guides the meat from the machine onto your work surface.

I cooked six steaks over searing hot cast iron for a side-by-side comparison. A plain, untreated steak immediately seized up and curled around the tendon. A second piece that went for a single trip between the rollers was thinner but noticeably more tender.

A third steak was treated according to LEM's instructions and put through the wringer twice and at different angles. Bingo. Once the meat rested, it was relaxed and tender enough to cut with a fork.

The last three steaks were processed in the same fashion, but then left to rest overnight in a Korean barbecue marinade. As predicted, the piece that was rolled through the machine twice was meltingly tender without being mushy.

Negative (-)

The cast iron body is no joke — it weighs just under seven pounds, making it a chore to set up, break down, and store away between each use. You could always leave it affixed to the countertop, but it would still need to be detached and cleaned after every meal. And unless your into a steampunk-meets-roadworker aesthetic, it's not exactly the sexiest piece of equipment.

My last complaint is also embarrassingly vain. Although the meat was tender, its appearance reminded me of cafeteria-style Salisbury steaks. Cutting beef into perfect slices that are 4" wide and ½" thick seems to takes away from the primal element of meat-eating. But who knows? Maybe the fact that it's reminiscent of a TV-dinner is comforting to some people.


This is a cool tool to suit the homesteading hunter or heavy meat eater. The rest of us would be better off with LEM's less cumbersome hand-held jaccard.

LEM Clamp-On Tenderizer; $49.99, lemproducts.com

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