How to Cut Meat Against the Grain

Cutting Meat Across or Against the Grain

Flank Steak
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"Slice against the grain." Have you ever read this in a recipe and wondered what it means?

Unraveling the Mystery of Cutting Against the Grain

Often, recipes don't explain this very well, but here is what it means to cut against the grain (across the grain means the same thing).

Some cuts of meat have distinct lines in them. Flank steak, skirt steak, brisket and London broil are good examples.

These long lines are fibers running through the meat, and they are difficult to chew through.

These cuts of meat are usually sliced (before or after cooking) in a way so that the fibers are cut through, making the meat more tender and easier to eat.

How to Do It

Look carefully at the flank steak on the cutting board in the picture. Horizontal lines are running from left to right throughout the steak. If you slice this steak in the same direction as those lines, you'll have to chew through the fibers or you'll end up with shreds.

Whereas, if you cut across the lines, the knife will have already done that work. Think of it similarly to slicing a stalk of celery. The strings are less likely to get caught in your teeth if you cut those strings into smaller lengths.

When slicing this type of meat, it is often recommended to slice thinly at a 45-degree angle. If the steak is thin (such as flank steak), I don't worry about the angle, though it is more elegant in the angled strips.

More about Steaks on a Low-Carb Diet

  • How to Cook a Steak from Grass-Fed BeefGrass-fed beef or beef fed on pasture is more expensive, and it also tastes a little different from the beef people in the U.S. are accustomed to. And the cooking method is different, too. Read on for the right way to treat this kind of high-quality meat.
     
  • How to Make Cheap Steaks Taste GoodI've experimented with quite a few different cuts and techniques for inexpensive cuts of meat like skirt steak, flank steak, top sirloin and others. Read on for some things I have discovered.

What's the Difference between Flank Steak and Skirt Steak?

  • Flank SteakLong, thin and fibrous, this boneless cut of beef comes from the animal's lower hindquarters. It's usually tenderized by marinating, then broiled or grilled whole.
     
  • Skirt SteakThis steak, cut from the beef flank, is the diaphragm muscle that lies between the abdomen and chest cavity. It's a long, flat piece of meat that's flavorful but tough. It can be quickly grilled or stuffed, rolled and braised.
     
  • London BroilThis is actually not a cut of meat but a way of preparing flank steak. The flank is cut into large pieces, tenderized by marinating and then broiled or grilled, and then thinly sliced across the grain.

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