Fat equals flavor, right? Yes and no. When it comes to meat, the “right kind” of fat is what makes a meal memorable — and that’s why how and when to trim off fat is a hotly debated topic among meatlovers.
In steak, marbling (or, the thin white rivers of fat running through your meat) is crucial when it comes to flavor. Although it is technically fat, it is inside the cut, and should be left as-is while you cook and as you enjoy. Marbling is so important to flavor, in fact, that it’s one of the ways cuts of meat are graded and priced.
In other cases, a cut of meat is literally enclosed in fat, and that can result in an unevenly cooked, greasy dish. This chunky, gristle-y fat is very different from the “inside” fat that gives a steak its rich, buttery flavor. In those instances, you certainly can trim some of the fat before you cook.
Although there are exceptions to the rule, our general recommendation is to trim excess outer fat before you cook. Why? Because fat and meat cook at different levels, and not trimming the fat off can result in burnt fat that will ruin the taste of your dinner. This is especially true if you are cooking at a high heat level, as you normally would with a steak. On the grill or stovetop, the heat point should be anywhere from 400-500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is too hot for thick chunks of fat to cook evenly. The only exception is if you are cooking at a relatively low temperature (think 350 degrees or below), at which point the fat should melt as the meat cooks without burning.
If you do need to trim the fat, be sure to follow these tips:
1. Use a sharp knife.
Not only is a dull knife ineffective, but it can actually be much more dangerous to use. It comes down to a clean slice versus a hack job.
2. Cut at an angle.
Pinch the “tag” of fat somewhere at the top of the meat, and slice downward as you pull the fat outward, creating a taut diagonal line. Angle the knife toward the fat as you go, otherwise you will cut into the good part of the meat!
3. Slice, don’t saw.
Clean, intentional cuts work so much better than sawing your knife back and forth, hoping for the best. Slow and steady wins here — better to go small bit by small bit rather than forfeit any meat accidentally.
All of that said, most cuts of steak, pork, and lamb you’ll receive from Market House are perfectly prepared to go straight to the heat without being trimmed. Our goal is to make a luxury at-home meal as simple as possible, so our butchers have trimmed away excessive fat and leave only that which will enhance flavor. Of course, it’s up to your personal preference and taste buds!
Can’t stop thinking about a juicy, flavor-packed steak (with just the right amount of fat!)? We don’t blame you. Give your taste buds a treat and order now.