technique

Shredding larger pieces of cooked meat into bite-size pieces is easy but not always quick! It’s a great project to do with a friend, sibling, or an adult.

In our Chicken Tinga Tacos, we cook chicken thighs in a sauce for 25 minutes until the meat is so tender it’s almost falling apart. Here’s our favorite technique for shredding the chicken into pieces. You can also use this technique to shred other kinds of cooked meat, including beef or pork.

hey curious cook—

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Shredding Meat

Transfer cooked meat from saucepan to cutting board or large plate and let cool slightly.

Use 2 forks to pull meat apart and shred it into bite-size pieces.

Turning Tough Meat Tender

Some recipes call for simmering food—usually meat—with a small amount of liquid in a covered pot for a long time, sometimes MANY hours. (It’s like a hot tub . . . for food!) This technique is called braising. If you like pot roast, chicken cacciatore, or pulled pork, you like braised food. Braising might mean that you have to wait a while for dinner, but the good news is that braising is a mostly hands-off process, so you can help set the table or play a game while you wait! And most important: Braising creates extra‑tender, extra-moist meat.

We "Meat" Again! (Praise for the Braise)

How does braising transform meat from tough to tender? Cooking the meat for a long time over low heat causes tough and chewy parts of the meat to melt and break down, becoming so tender that you can cut through it—or shred it—with a fork. The sweet spot for this is between 140 and 200 degrees (remember, water boils at 212 degrees), so you want to keep your pot over low heat. If the meat gets too hot—more than 200 degrees—it will start to dry out. Remember: Low heat is key for tender meat.