At the end of the day retailers have an agenda: be that profits, using up the entire carcass, time efficiency or renown for a particular product. It doesn’t mean that as consumers you’re being done over, but your wants and those of suppliers might not always overlap.
Trimming every last piece of fat and gristle off a meat joint is time consuming and also costs retailers money, plus the odd piece might be missed. If you get home to find you’ve bought a joint with some sinew or gristle left on, here’s a step-by-step-guide to tidying up your Sunday roast.
I chose a beef fillet for this evening’s meal and as you can see there’s a layer of sinewy fibre – the silvery coating – on top of the meat. It won’t do you any harm but it equally won’t add to the eating experience and it’s easily rectified. You may often find a similar layer on sirloins, silverside and salmon cut.
Use the tip of a small, sharp kitchen knife to get under the sinew fibres around a third of the way from the end of the joint. With the knife sharp side towards you pull the blade between the sinew and muscle until you work your way to the end of the joint. Always be aware of cutting towards yourself and the position of your non-cutting hand. Take care!
With your non-cutting hand hold on to the sinew you’ve already separated from the meat and place your knife facing away from you to remove the other two thirds of the gristle, in the same manner as step one.
Always angle the blade of your knife up towards the fibres you’re going to discard. This will avoid accidentally slashing into the joint you’re going to cook and prevents spoiling the presentation.
You should be left with a sinew and gristle free joint of meat, with no cuts or slashes in the remaining cut you’re planning to cook. This should eat better and cook more evenly than before.
The marbling of fat inside the joint itself isn’t anything to worry about. The fat will melt when cooked and add to the flavour and succulence of the meat. If the joint is excessively fatty around the outside then this can always be trimmed off with a sharp knife.
Got any questions or want tips on other ways to present or butcher meat? Comment via the form below. Happy butchering!