How to Cut Meat Really Thin

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Slicing meat thin requires a sharp knife and a steady hand.
Slicing meat thin requires a sharp knife and a steady hand. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Cutting meat really thin by hand is a skill that butchers sometimes take years to develop. Most of the time, if you want meat cut really thin, it has to be done on an electric meat slicer. However, an electric meat slicer is impractical for the home cook due to the prohibitive cost of the machine against the number of times you will use it. By taking a couple of precautionary steps, you can learn to cut meat very thin at home without the use of an electric meat slicer.

Things You'll Need

  • Freezer
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Cut-proof glove

Slicing Raw Meat

Place the meat to be sliced in the freezer. Leave it there for about 20 to 30 minutes. Placing meat in the freezer prior to cutting makes it easier to manipulate and gives the knife more purchase when cutting.

Verify that your knife is sharp. Make some preliminary cuts on a vegetable or take a slice of paper in one hand and attempt to slice it using the knife in the other. Sharpen the knife using a sharpening steel, if necessary.

Remove the meat from the freezer and set it on a cutting board. Wear a cut-proof glove on your non-knife hand for added safety while holding the meat. Cut across the grain (most cuts of meat have distinct lines in them, similar to wood) as close to the edge as possible if cutting beef or pork. Follow the path of the meat to make even cuts -- cut on the bias (angled), if necessary. Use the same degree of cut for each succeeding slice.

Hold down the meat firmly with your non-knife hand if you're cutting chicken or another kind of bird meat. Firmly press the blade straight down through to the cutting board as close to the edge as possible. Repeat the next cut along the same line.

Slicing Cooked Meat

Remove meat from heat and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Locate the grain of the meat -- for pork or beef -- and slice as close to the edge as possible. Cutting across the grain makes the slices tenderer. Use your fingers as a guide -- wear a cut-proof glove for extra protection -- and run the knife along the edge where your fingertips are guiding the cut. Repeat the process for each successive cut.

Cut chicken or other birds at an angle at the top of the breast. Follow the same cut path for each successive cut.

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