As much simple and insignificant as it might appear, learning how to cut and slice meat is key to mastering cooking. In fact, the overall cooking experience is optimized when you learn the secrets to cutting and slicing meat.
I myself used to worry much about cutting meat. I was afraid of ruining a good piece of meat. However, as I started to practice more cooking, I realized that doing it properly did not just give the plate an appetizing look, but also had an effect on both texture and taste.
Making Tender Meat Bites
Now, with the tricks and skills I have acquired, the level of my meat dishes has been elevated. Not only do I cook dishes well-done, but also my stir fries have perfect slices of meat. This has actually given me more self-confidence in the kitchen.
So let me share some of these tips with you. I am sure that after learning these tricks and skills, you will no longer face such issues of leathery steak or hard-to-chew grills. Instead, the meat will be as tender as you want it to be.
Your Way into Perfect Meat Cutting
It all begins with the knife. A sharp knife makes your cooking task easier. This task becomes harder if you use a dull knife that might cause injuries as well.
It is also essential to choose the right kind of knife for each type of meat. For example, a chef’s knife fits more with larger cuts of beef. A serrated knife, on the other hand, is ideal for slicing tough meats as roasts.
What is a Grain?
Then comes the direction of the grain. Grain represents the fibers in the meat. If you make your way with the grain, the meat becomes tough and hard to chew.
Therefore, you need to identify the direction of the grain and then cut perpendicular to it. This makes the meat more tender and eating more enjoyable.
While there are general rules for cutting and slicing meat, yet these vary depending on the kind of meat. So cutting beef differs from that of chicken and fish. Let’s then have a look at how to cut and slice each type of meat starting with beef.
Juicy, Delicious Meat Chunks
Cutting Large Shanks of Meat
First of all, it is important to choose the right cut of beef. This is because the texture, taste, and cooking method of beef varies according to the cut. Choose ribeye or a filet mignon if you want tender beef while skirt steak or a flank steak suits flavored beef more.
No matter what part of the beef you’re working with, it’s important to trim the fat. This makes the meat easier to cut. Basically, you need to remove any visible fat from the edges.
Meat on the Board
Then, as I said before, you need to cut the beef all the way across the grain (those visible thin, white muscle fibers), perpendicular to it. If you cut it with the grain, you will end up having meat that is hard to chew.
Thus, the technique is clear and simple. First, place the meat on the cutting board in a way that it is parallel to the longer side of the board. Then, identify the direction of the grain. After that, hold your knife perpendicular to the meat in order to slice it perfectly against the grain.
Now it’s time to cut the beef to the thickness you desire. Make ½ to one-inch slices for steaks and one to 1 and ½-inch slices for roasts.
What about Slicing Small Meat Chunks?
To make stews and soups, it’s ok to use tougher cuts, for they will go through slow cooking. Here, you can trim away any visible fat, too.
To make your cutting task easier, you can follow the previous steps of cutting the meat into large shanks first. Cut just perpendicular to the meat and against the grain.
Later, cut the large chunks into smaller pieces with a smooth and even motion. The purpose is to get pieces that are consistent in size. If you want to use this meat for stews or soups, aim for chunks that are about 1-2 inches in size.
With respect to shawarma meat, slice the large pieces into thin and somehow longer shreds. In this way, they can be easily grilled. The ideal meat cuts for shawarma are flank steak or skirt steak, sliced into slender pieces.
Slicing and Dicing like a Pro
Slicing Lamb: Is It the Same?
Cutting lamb is not much different from slicing meat. Nevertheless, although both are red meats, still a few basic differences exist between beef and lamb. These need to be taken into consideration when cutting and slicing each kind of meat.
Beef is known to have a distinct grain direction that can be easily identified. Lamb, on the other hand, has irregular grain patterns. So, it’s important to identify the direction of the muscle fibers in lamb in order to slice against the grain.
More than that, lamb is generally more tender than beef. That’s why it’s better to use a sharp knife to make clear cuts and to slice against the grain.
One more difference is that of the cuts of meat. Beef is generally boneless meat, but some lamb cuts as the leg might contain bones. In some cases, you need to debone a leg of lamb or extract the rib cage before making the cuts.
By using simple techniques and basic knowledge, cutting and slicing meat is no longer a concern. Now, you will be able to slice and cut any kind of meat just as pro cooks do. Only trust yourself and choose the right knife, and always keep in mind that practice makes perfect. Good luck and best wishes in your next cutting and slicing venture!
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