In life, we have always been told to go with the flow, and there we would find success and the sense of belongingness. Yet, this is not always the case mostly when it comes to slicing meat. If you have ever wondered how to cut meat against the grain and why it is advised by chefs from all over the globe, then this post has got you covered.
Over the years, professional chefs from around the world continuously found new ways to create mouthwatering dishes. The taste, texture, and smell of every dish are determined by how well the ingredients were prepared and how carefully they were put together to make up an exciting flavor.
There are many ways in which we prepare and cook meat. Some prefer to ground it up and grill to make a juicy and meaty hamburger while others like it pan-seared and flavored with their favorite spices. One of the hardest ingredients to work with are the meats. This is the reason there are general ground rules when it comes to using meat in your dishes, and that is to cut against the grain.
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What Does It Mean
When you look closely at cooked meat, you will find very pronounced individual strands of meat running lengthwise. Those strands are called grains. This is especially evident in cooked pieces of steaks. So, when someone says to cut against the grain, they are pertaining to the strands of meat that are found on the steak. Cutting or slicing against the grain means that once it is cooked and rested for a few minutes, you then slice it by running the knife across the strands and not parallel to it.
Why You Should Do It
Now that you know what it means to cut meat against the grain, you might be wondering what the reasons are behind it. Although there are very few benefits to cutting against the grain, they are essential ones in making the steak more delicious, tender, and easier to swallow.
When you cut against the direction of the meat strands, then you are slicing the strands into smaller tissue fibers, shortening them and making them easier to chew through and swallow. Additionally, it will also expose your tongue to a larger surface area of the meat, allowing you to taste its flavors in a single bite.
How to Cut Meat Against the Grain
Basically, there are just three steps needed to be done if you intend on cutting meat against the grain. Nevertheless, it can still be a rather difficult challenge for some, especially if they are just new to cooking. Meats are among the most challenging ingredient to cook, which is why it is important to practice it and trust that you will be better in time.
For now, check out the steps below and try them out the next time you choose to serve steak in your home.
Step 1: Knowing Which Way the Meat Strands Go
Of course, the very first thing that you have to do if the recipe calls for cutting the meat against the grain is securing which way each individual strand of meat go. Slicing the meat in this way can be done on both raw and cooked meat. If you have already cut the meat into small portions or cubes, you do not need to cut it again once it is cooked.
Step 2: Cook the Meat As Per Instructions
After you have made certain which way the strands on the meat go, then you can now start cooking it as the recipe requires. When it comes to cooking tough cuts, make sure that it is marinated for an extended period to ensure tender results. Simply cutting against the grain, especially if the meat is known to be tougher than others, would not do the trick of tenderizing it.
Step 3: Cut the Meat Against The Grain
The last step you need to do to finish this task is to follow the instructions that you have learned from the discussions earlier. For those who wish to serve pre-sliced meat, let the steak rest for a couple of minutes before slicing. In that way, the juices and flavors get to settle, and your steak will become juicy and tender.
Once rested, thinly slice against the grain. You might also want to give it a quick taste to make sure that you are getting the flavors that you want it to have. Even if it is a tough cut of meat, doing so will ensure that your dish is very easy to chew even for kids.
What Kind Of Knife To Use
Knowing how to cut meat against the grain is winning just half the battle. The other half means that you have to find out which type of knife should you use in order to do it properly. Basically, it all depends on what cut of meat you are trying to slice and when.
For those who need to cut the meat against the grain before cooking it, opt for a very sharp chef’s knife. On the other hand, if you intend on cutting the meat after it has been cooked and serve it to your guests, then do not forget to give them one piece of steak knives each.
All in all, the science behind why it is always advisable to cut meat against the grain is very simple. The intention is to shorten the tissue fibers of the meat in order to assist in the chewing process. When the tissue fibers are shortened, it results in a tenderer piece of meat.
Another reason why professional chefs have always advised to do this trick is so that you can taste the most flavor out of that one single piece of meat. When you cut it properly, you expose the largest surface area of the meat to your tongue and taste buds. This means that you can enjoy the full flavors with every single bite.
Just remember that the level of tenderness depends on the kind of meat that you are using. Those cuts that are known to be tougher compared to other parts should be marinated or cooked in a pressure cooker for some time in order to tenderize it.