Whether you want somewhat thin slices for grilled beef skewers, or paper thin slices for carpaccio, slicing raw beef thinly and evenly can be difficult. There are a couple of tips for doing this safely and simply without a motorized meat slicer that will save you aggravation - and finger tips.
For the purposes of this Instructable, I chose a cut of meat notoriously difficult to slice thinly, an oddly shaped bottom round roast. There are cuts of beef that are much easier to slice thinly, such as a London broil, but I wanted to show how even the most difficult cuts can be sliced this way.
- A big hunk of beef
- A proper slicing knife (description to follow)
Step 1: The Right Tool for the Right Job
The first tip is to use a proper meat slicing knife. Not only will it make the process easier, but also safer. Using the wrong knife can lead to injury. For example, a thick, sharply pointed chef's knife can catch when slicing raw meat thinly, causing you to lose control of the blade, and a loss of control is an injury waiting to happen.
The right knife for the job is a granton slicer. Pictured is the one I own, a Henckels 10". I won't kid you, this is an expensive knife, I paid over $100 for mine. However, if I had it to do over again, I would have paid $58 for a Victorinox Fibrox 14" which was recently rated #1 by America's Test Kitchen.
So why does the knife matter? Well, grantons, those little ovals in the blade, break up resistance against the blade, allowing for smoother cuts with more control. In addition, a good slicing knife has a rounded tip, so that it is less likely to poke into the meat and catch, producing jagged cuts and putting your fingers at risk. It should also have a gently tapered thickness and flexible blade, this increases control, making thin cuts easier, and safer.
Step 2: Chill the Beef
It helps if the meat is a little stiffer than raw, but we don't want to try to cut frozen meat, this will just dull our blade and drive us to conniption fits. I take a fresh, raw, roast and put it in the freezer for 2 hours. Thinner cuts, like a London broil or a vacio, can be placed in the freezer for about an hour. This will chill our beef, making it stiffer, but without freezing it.
Take the meat out of the freezer, and using your slicer and a cutting board, cut slices to the desired thinness using a smooth, even motion. It is okay if you have to use a sawing motion (with my 10" knife I have to do this a lot more often than if I had a 14" blade), it is okay, just keep it smooth and gentle. Only apply as much pressure as is needed to let the knife do it's job.
Follow these tips and you will soon be a thin-slicing pro.