Have you ever taken a bite of a piece of barbecued beef and wondered if it came from an old cow? You keep chewing and chewing, but it just doesn’t want to break down. The seasoning is on point, but your jaw is starting to ache. You have just been served a beautiful dish, but something isn’t right about its texture. All of this happened because the chef didn’t know how to cut meat. If you are going to master the grill, the slicing and dicing of BBQ meats is essential to your success.
Against the grain
In the previous example, one of the biggest meat cutting rules was broken. You must cut meat against the grain in order for it to be tender. If you cut with the grain, or parallel to its muscle fibers, the meat will retain its structure and be stringy or chewy. Cutting against the grain shortens those muscle fibers and breaks down the meat somewhat before it gets to your mouth.
Look closely at a cut of meat to see which direction the grains lie. It is easier to see in tougher cuts like flank steak, but you should be able to tell in any piece of meat.
Timing is important
You also have to know when to cut your meat. For the barbecue, you generally want meat to rest for 10 minutes prior to cutting, so it will retain its juices. You will need to get the meat cut prior to cooking if you are planning on getting a char on each slice such as when cooking cross-cut ribs or carne asada. Lastly, you may want to wait to cut meat into strips until after it is cooked. This allows you to get the char but also to prevent small slices from falling through the grill.
Use a sharp knife
Lastly, knife maintenance is crucial for safety, especially when cutting meat. A dull knife is a hazard because you have to push so hard to get through the meat that you lose control. Also, the correct type of knife is necessary to ensure even cuts but also that the knife is tough enough to handle the pressure. If you used a delicate knife, it may bend and become dangerous when presented with a big piece of roast to cut.
There are many things to think about when you are grilling meat, but one thing that should not be ignored is cutting technique. It can make a difference in tenderness, juiciness, and safety.