So you’ve heard that thinly sliced meat is all the rage now. Bulgogi and carpaccio drizzled with olive oil are in. You can turn a lamb leg, a pork chop, rib eye, or tri-tip into something delicious in no time for your weeknight dinner. If only you had a deli slicer... Fortunately, you don’t need any type of meat slicers. Today, I’m showing you two low-tech methods for how to slice meat thin without a slicer.
Sure, if you had a meat slicer everything would go more smoothly. But with just the right technique you can slice meat thinly with no problem at all. Grab your kitchen utensils and keep reading. By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to pan sear your thin slices of meat (perfectly cooked to avoid health issues!) in no time.
Here Is What You’ll Need...
The most important thing you need to get thin slices is patience. Cooking is an art—and so is thinly slicing meat without a slicer. At first, the slicing technique you’ll learn may seem intimidating and nervewracking. After all, you’ll be making meticulous cuts, but you’ll get better as you practice. Just be sure you go into this with a clear head—you got this.
Oh, and you’ll obviously need some kitchen tools (just not any deli slicers). Let’s look at them together.
First things first, you need a quality knife. You can’t get slice meat thinly if you don’t have a well-balanced knife. A butcher knife will work perfectly. If you don’t have one you can use a chef knife instead.
On top of that, you need to make sure you’re using a sharp knife. It needs to be sharp enough to effortless cut through a piece of paper or slice a tomato without bruising it at all. With a blunt knife, you won’t get a clean cut, but that’s nothing a good knife sharpener can’t fix.
Good Cutting Board
Using a quality wood cutting board will also help you get the best thin slices of meat. Wooden boards don’t slip on your counter as easily and their rougher surface area is great at holding your piece of meat in place. Plus, since you can get a pretty good board at an affordable price, getting one is a sound investment. Just don’t forget to clean it thoroughly after you use it!
Slicing Raw Meat: It’s Easier!
You will get the best results if you thinly slice raw meat. That’s because you won’t lose any of the meat’s juices and you’ll have an easier time keeping the cut of meat intact. If you were to use a meat slicer, you would also slice it when it’s raw!
Yet, because meat can be slippery when it's raw, it’s a good idea to freeze it before you start slicing. Simply place the meat on a baking tray and leave it in the freezer for 30 minutes. You don’t want to end up with rock-solid frozen meat, so don’t forget to set a timer. You would also follow this step if you were working with a deli slicer. The prep work will pay off in the end.
Once your frozen meat is ready to work with, it’s time to start cutting. Transfer it to your cutting board and make a very gentle sawing motion. Depending on the cut you’re working with, you may have to cut with or against the grain. Either way, make sure to pay attention to what you’re doing and try to be as thorough with the slicing process as possible.
Slicing Cooked Meat: Still a Great Method
If you’re working with cooked meat, you can still get paper-thin slices, but the technique will be slightly different.
As you can imagine, there is no need to freeze meat once it's already been cooked. Instead, you’ll want to let the meat rest for ten to fifteen minutes on your cutting board before you start cutting. It needs this time to rest so it can keep all those flavorful juices in. Plus, it will hold its shape better after a while.
After that time has passed, grab your knife and start making those gentle sawing movements we mention earlier. Be sure to check whether you should cut with or against the grain.
Safety First! Some Helpful Tips
A butcher or chef knife may not be as intimidating as a meat slicer, but you must always keep your safety in mind nevertheless. While sharp knives are much safer than blunt knives, you can’t let your guard down. The number one reason for cutting accidents is that an inexperienced home cook may not know how to hold their knives properly. Fortunately for you, I’ve already covered that in a detailed guide.
Nonetheless, remember to keep one hand firmly around the handle of the knife and the other resting on the meat. Use your non-dominant hand to guide the piece of meat toward your knife for better results.