Steak is a favorite for many people due to its high-quality, aroma, taste, and nutritional value. Few things can beat a well-prepared steak’s flavor, tenderness, and juiciness.
Also, depending on your preferences, you have countless ways to cook your steak and numerous side dishes to serve. A good steak is a byproduct of proper preparation, seasoning, and cooking.
While cutting the steak sometimes seems like an afterthought, it is crucial because it affects its look and taste. Here are some tips you should consider before and after you decide to cut the meat.
Cut Before or After Cooking
There’s a superheated debate among cooking enthusiasts on whether to cut steak before or after cooking. No single answer is correct, since your personal preference and what you are cooking determine whether to cut the steak upfront or after cooking.
Slicing your steak into small pieces prior to cooking allows you to sear the inside and outside in the same way. Also, you get an excellent crust on every slice for optimal deliciousness. This method is suitable for stews, chilies, and tacos.
On the other hand, cutting after cooking –cooking larger pieces lets you sear the outside while the inside remains rarer. Such an approach is excellent for salads.
You may wonder why you should cut the steak into small pieces. There’re various reasons for slicing your steak.
First, it allows you to create multiple portions. This way, you can feed more people without buying steaks for every person.
Steak is costly, and cutting it into small pieces gives you more value while saving money. Second, cutting steak enables you to accomplish cooking goals based on the unique dish being prepared.
Preparing the Steak for Cutting
Washing your hands is a fundamental part of cooking. It promotes food safety and hygiene by ensuring you don’t bring germs into the steak.
After handwashing, follow the process below to prepare your steak for cutting.
Handling Raw Steak
If you prefer to cut your steak before cooking or your recipe states so, start by freezing the steak partially. This eliminates the stain of cutting raw steak by making it firmer and easier to cut. Then, trim any unwanted parts of the steak, such as excess fat, muscle, and membranes.
After this, consider marking your cuts before cutting to get a consistent size. Equal-sized slices cook evenly and at the same rate, lowering the likelihood of overcooking or undercooking.
After handling raw steak, wash your hands thoroughly to get rid of bacteria associated with raw meat. Use an anti-bacterial soap and plenty of water for the best results.
Handling Cooked Steak
If you prefer to cut your steak after cooking, start by cooking. Steak lovers have distinct preferences for the degree of cooking.
Some prefer a rare cook, others medium cook, and others opt for a well-done steak. The degree of cooking affects its taste and texture significantly. Most people love a medium rare because it provides an optimal balance between flavor and texture.
After cooking, do not cut your steak immediately. During the cooking process, heat scrambles the juices inside the steak. Allowing the steak to rest gives time for the juices to redistribute for an evenly cooked and juicer steak. Leave the steak covered for 10 minutes for smaller cuts and 30 minutes for larger cuts.
Cutting the Steak
Whether you are cutting the super-tender rib eye or the tough flank steak, here are some best practices.
Slice Against the Grain
The grain of a steak is the direction of muscle fibers. Typically, you will see several lines on the steak running parallel to each other.
Grains are less visible in tender cuts like New York striploin and beef tenderloin. It is best practice to slice against the grain –cut through muscle fibers for tender and tasteful cuts. Consider severing the fibers to increase the steak’s tenderness.
It is not uncommon for people to mistake grill marks on cooked steak for grains. These marks don’t necessarily match with the grains. As such, do not be tempted to cut your steak against the grill marks instead of the grains.
Slice Your Way
While this seems like a no-brainer, use a sharp knife when cutting your steak into small pieces. A sharp knife lets you cut the steak cleanly without a ragged or slightly-torn effect. It also saves time and effort, and you cut through the steak quickly.
When cutting steak, a cutting board is handy to promote safety and traction and protect your countertop. With a cutting board and a knife in place, mark your cuts, depending on your preferred size. Hold your steak with a fork for smooth and precise cuts.
Then, position your knife at the steak’s far end and cut smoothly and downward. Whether you want strips, chunks, cubes, or small bites, ensure you cut against the grain.
Finally, present the steak with your meal in the most aesthetically-pleasing way possible. For instance, consider reassembling the slices into the shape of the original cut if serving it on a platter. If each person on the table gets multiple pieces of steak, serve them together.
Cutting steak is often an overlooked but essential part of steak preparation and cooking. How you cut your steak affects its visual appeal, flavor, and texture. Also, it makes the difference between an irritating and chewy cut and a slice of tender perfection.
Whether you want to prepare eye-catching and tasteful steak strips for food photography or your guests, the tips and tricks above will help create the ultimate eating experience.