How to Cut Meat Against the Grain

Cutting meat for a perfect slice

Flank Steak
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You've probably encountered the directions to "slice against the grain" in recipes before. Here's what it means and how to do it.

Unraveling the Mystery of Cutting Against the Grain

Often, recipes don't explain this very well, but here's what it means to cut against or across the grain.

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 chew.

How to Cut Against the Grain

Look carefully at the flank steak on the cutting board in the picture. Horizontal lines are running from left to right throughout the steak above the knife. 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. For many cuts of meat, cutting against the grain means slicing it across the width instead of the length.

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

Steaks on a Low-Carb Diet

Steaks are a great meal option when you're on a low-carb diet. Not only are they high in protein, but they also have generous amounts of vitamins B12, B3, and B6.

Looking for more info? Here are some tips to prepare your steak:

  • How to cook a steak from grass-fed beef: Grass-fed beef or beef fed on pasture is more expensive, and it also tastes a little different from the beef people in the United States are accustomed to. And the cooking method is different, too. Here's how to treat this kind of high-quality meat.
  • How to make cheap steaks taste goodThere's a whole host of different techniques for preparing inexpensive cuts of meat like skirt steak, flank steak, top sirloin, and others. Here are some tips.

Popular Cuts of Steak

If you're not sure what cut of steak to look for, here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Tenderloin steak: Also known as filet mignon or chateaubriand, this is the most tender cut, though not as flavorful as less tender cuts.
  • Top blade steak: Also called flat iron steak, this cut comes from the shoulder and is extremely tender.
  • Top loin steak: Marketed as a New York City or Kansas City strip steak, this cut is lean and full of flavor.
  • Porterhouse steak: This giant steak packs a power punch of both tenderness and flavor and is a good choice for grilling.
  • T-bone steak: Another flavorful choice for grilling, this steak is about halfway down the scale of tenderness.
  • Ribeye steak: This cut is more flavorful than tender, thanks to its heavy marbling.
  • Flank steak: A flat, thin cut also known as London Broil that isn't particularly tender, but packs a lot of flavor.
  • Top sirloin steak: Another flavorful but not particularly tender cut.