This post is part of our 50 Campfires series, 9 Rules for Flame-Cooking a World-Class Steak, giving you a complete guide to one of the best camping meals imaginable. One of final steps in this process cutting and slicing a steak, the correct way, to perfection. Something as simple as cutting against the grain can dramatically improve your steak-eating experience!
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If you’re not using a thermometer (for whatever reason) or if you’re a “seeing is believing” type, then it’s okay, but not recommended, to cut into a steak to determine its doneness. The best choice is, if you’re making a bunch of similar size and thickness steaks at once, is to cut one, check it, and then keep that one for the cook’s plate just in case you lose a lot of the juice.
Most often you’ll serve each diner a whole steak or a large piece of a steak allowing them to cut bite sized pieces for themselves. However, you may want to serve “family style.” If that’s the case slice steak carefully across the grain about ¼ inch thick and reassemble on the serving platter. This method works especially well if you’re topping the steak with a pan sauce or au jus as it filters down between the meat slices for maximum flavor. This is how the thinner, less prime cuts like flank, skirt, and hanger steak are often served.
Always slice across the grain. If you don’t cut the fibers crosswise, you’ll be gnawing on longer, intact muscle fibers. When you cut across the grain your teeth won’t have to, meaning you’re biting smaller bits of muscle fibers. Properly cutting a steak goes a long way toward perfected final “bite” or tenderness.