When cooking and serving steak, the proper steak-cutting technique is as important as the cooking itself. It can make your steak delicious and tender or tough and chewy. Whether you’re serving a premium cut of beef from the cow’s loin or rib, or a cheaper cut from the chuck area, the way you slice a cooked steak can significantly impact the texture of the meat.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about how to cut steak like a professional chef. I’ll explain the importance of having a sharp knife and how to achieve a perfect slice.
Why slicing steak against the grain is important?
Slicing steak against the grain is essential. It helps to make the meat more tender and have a more consistent texture throughout the steak. It doesn’t matter whether you’re slicing a tender piece of meat from the loin or a tough piece of meat from the flank section of the cow. Muscle fibers tighten and shrink when meat is cooked, pushing meat juice toward the center, and making it tough and chewy. By cutting through the muscle fibers in the opposite direction of how they are oriented in the meat makes them shorter and more tender.
Here’s a list of steaks that must be cut against the grain to ensure they are not chewy: skirt steak, hanger steak, and flank steak.
How to cut steak step by step
Here’s a step-by-step guide on slicing meat:
Step 1: Let the steak rest before cutting it
It’s essential to let the steak rest after cooking it. Depending on the steak size, it should rest for at least 5-20 minutes. Resting will allow steak juices to redistribute throughout the meat’s interior, making it more tender and juicy. To understand more about why you should leave the steak to rest, read this article.
Step 2: Make sure your knife is sharp
A sharp knife makes cutting steak much easier, faster, and more precise. It’ll glide through the meat with minimal resistance without damaging the meat fibers and compromising the texture of the steak. On the other hand, a dull knife requires more effort to slice the steak. It can also damage the meat fibers and alter the steak’s texture. Using a sharp knife is not only easier but safer at the same time because it reduces the risk of slipping and cutting yourself.
Step 3: Determine the direction of the grain
Take a closer look at the surface of the steak and try to identify the lines running throughout the meat. These lines indicate the direction of the grain. However, feel the meat with your fingers if you have difficulty sporting the lines. The grain is slightly raised, and you can easily fall the grain’s direction with your fingertips.
Step 4: Slice against the grain
Place the steak on a flat surface, such as a cutting board. Hold the steak steadily on a cutting board using your hand or tongs. Make sure to handle steak with care. You do not want to squeeze out the juice from the meat. Using a sharp knife, slice the steak perpendicular to the long parallel muscle fibers in the meat.