Home made jerky: Cut with or against the grain?
We’ve all heard discussions about cutting meat “with or against the grain”. Normally this is in the context of steak, or in Australia, carving up the lamb roast! But, unless you had expert tuition in your younger days, it can all get a bit confusing. We hope this small page can help you with your jerky, and maybe understand the concept in a broader context as well.
This is an explanation of what “cutting with/against the grain” actually means, and what the end results are. Here we go!
Home made jerky: Cutting with the grain
Topside round being cut with the grain
Pictured here is a large topside that has been trimmed of all fat (note: “Top round” in the USA). You can see the “grain” of the meat running left-right across the page, in the same direction of the knife blade. These are the meat fibres. If we cut the meat “with the grain” the blade follows the natural lines of the meat. Visualise the knife blad cutting through the meat – no fibres will be cut, so these fibres are still intact once the meat is sliced, giving those slices strength.
Eventually, a product that has been cut with the grain will be relatively chewy. So, the naming “with the grain” is quite misleading, because it means that eventually you’ll be biting through the grain when you eat the final product, as seen here:
Final product: beef jerky cut with the grain
Shown here is a piece of jerky that has been cut with the grain. You can actually see the meat fibres intact, we’ve roughly drawn some red lines in the same direction:
Imagine biting into it. Your teeth will be cutting against the direction of the grain. The fibres will be more difficult to bite through, and the jerky will be harder to chew. This suits some products, but not others. Sometimes we want to have something that is a bit more work to chew. We had one person comment that he likes to make chilli jerky cut with the grain so that his friends suffer longer when chewing it!
KOOEE! jerky is actually cut against the grain, so your teeth are biting in the same direction as the grain. Our jerky is for people on the move, so we wanted to create a slightly softer texture. Keep reading to see how we do it.
Home made jerky: Cutting against the grain
Topside round being cut against the grain
The opposite applies when cutting against the grain. If you cut through all the meat fibres when slicing the raw meat, you’re going to have a much easier time when eating the final jerky. This is why steak should always be cut against the grain. In fact, whilst on a 6 month journey to create the world’s best beef burger, Heston Blumenthal discovered how important it was to cut his meat patty against the grain (resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth experience).
Below is some KOOEE! jerky that was cut against the grain. It was very easy for us to pull this apart, because the fibres of the meat are actually running into the page.
Final product: beef jerky cut against the grain
Summary: cut against the grain for a less-chewy jerky
- With the grain (Chewy):
- The knifes blade follows the natural lines of the meat
- The eater must then chew through the fibres when eating the final product
- Jerky (or steak) cut with the grain will be relatively chewy/tough
- Against the grain:
- The knifes blade intersects the natural lines of the meat
- The hard work has already been done before the product is eaten
- Jerky (or steak) cut against the grain is relatively easy to chew
For jerky, this is a matter of preference. KOOEE! jerky is always cut against the grain, just like any well prepared steak. But, we expect our product to be eaten on the move. There are some occasions where having a chewy jerky would be totally acceptable – a fishing trip, beers infront of the TV, punishing your friends with a super hot chilli, etc.