After going through all of the trouble to find the best steak and cook it to perfection, the last thing you want to do is ruin your eating experience by cutting it poorly. A mishandled steak will feel chewy and unsatisfying even with the best preparation.
To prevent this from ever happening to you, we put together this guide to teach you how to slice up your steak while keeping it tender and juicy.
Let It Rest First
Before you even begin cutting into your steak, you need to let it rest for a sufficient amount of time. This seals in juices that would otherwise splatter all over your plate.
Why You Should Rest Your Steak
When you cook your steak, the protein fibers in the meat constrict and push the juices towards its center. By cutting into it as soon as you finish cooking it, you’re allowing these juices to flow out of the meat and take moisture and flavor with them. If you let it rest instead, the steak’s muscle fibers relax and allow delicious juices to spread out from the center and into the rest of the cut.
Resting steak also lets the heat still trapped inside to continue cooking the meat for a short time. This resting period enables you to remove your steak from its heat source shortly before reaching the final temperature, finishing the final cooking as you rest it.
How To Rest Steak
As your steak reaches its final temperature or shortly before it does, remove it from your cooking surface and place it on a serving platter or cutting board. Loosely cover it with aluminum foil but make sure to leave room for air. This airflow lets your steak retain sufficient heat without continuing to cook at full temperature.
Generally, you want to let your steak rest for between five and seven minutes before it is ready to serve. It would be ideal to allow its interior to reach a comfortable eating temperature of around 130°F, but using a meat thermometer would allow juices to escape.
After this time has passed, remove the aluminum foil and serve your steak immediately.
How to cut steak
The best method to make sure that each bite of your steak is juicy and tender is to cut against the grain. The grain of your steak is the direction in which the muscle fibers run through your cut.
Why You Should Cut Against the Grain
As you cut against the grain, you shorten the muscle fibers in your steak to the length of your slice. In contrast, cutting with the grain keeps your cut’s muscle fibers mostly intact running through the meat.
Biting into a piece of meat after you cut across the grain lets your teeth easily slide between the fibers and break apart your steak as you chew. With pieces cut along the grain, the continuous muscle fibers form larger sections that make it more difficult for your teeth to tear apart. The result is that failing to cut against the grain makes your steak much more challenging to chew.
Determining the Direction of the Grain
Whether you are looking at a raw or cooked steak, you should see the direction that the meat’s muscle fibers run. If you successfully cut against the grain, you will see the severed ends of the individual muscle fibers in your steak’s cross-section. When you cut with the grain, the strings of muscle will run uninterrupted through the sliced steak.
You should still see the muscle fibers after you cook your steak, but it can be more difficult than with a raw cut due to grill marks. To ensure you can cut effectively every time, you may want to take a picture of the steak beforehand. Another option is to square off an end before you cook to demonstrate the proper direction to cut against the grain.
How To Cut Against the Grain
After you find the grain’s direction in your steak, you cut against it by using your knife perpendicular to the grain lines. This action means that your cut will intersect multiple muscle fibers to shorten them rather than going alongside them.
When cutting meat against the grain, you need to be aware that the same type of steak can have grains going in different directions depending on the butchering method. You will need to determine the grain’s direction for each cut of steak.
The grain also does not move all in the same direction on the same piece of meat. The grain lines do not run uniformly in the cut, so be sure to adjust your cutting angle as you work your way through the steak.
As long as you keep the grain’s direction in mind, you do not need any complicated cutting techniques to correctly eat your steak. This simple method will help you enjoy your steak to the best of its potential.