Cooking a big ‘ole hunk of meat can be tricky business when you’re not devoting slow, long hours to smoke or barbecue. As skilled as one may be at grilling or pan frying, a big, thick cut is difficult to cook evenly. When the outside firms up (and dries out!), the middle hasn’t even changed color. What is one to do?
Butterflying a thick cut of meat is a simple solution. Without cutting all the way through, you’re able to slice through that girth while keeping it all in one piece, evening out the cooking process and reducing your overall time on the grill or stovetop.
It’s really easy to do! Here’s how:
Step 1: Sharpen your knife. As home cooks, we often forget or skip this step, but it is so important. Not only will it make the job much easier for you, but it will also ensure that you don’t end up with a mangled piece of meat at the end.
Step 2: Lay your ingredient flat on a cutting board and place your free hand squarely on top. Don’t press down too hard—apply just enough pressure to keep the meat steady as you work. The thickest, fullest piece of the cut you’re working with should face away from you (so if there’s a tapered end, it’s facing toward you).
Step 3: Hold your knife parallel and carefully begin cutting through the thickness of the meat. Try to make your cut as close to the middle as possible, so that the two flaps you create are of equal size. Do NOT cut all the way through; stop about ½ inches before you reach the other side.
Step 4: Now, you can open your cut like a book, and you will be able to expose a larger, thinner surface area to the heat. Marinate, season, or otherwise prepare as you like and get to cookin’!
The name “butterfly” comes from the shape that results after you make your cut—like two butterfly wings connected at the center. You can use this technique on chicken, pork chops, lamb chops, steak—even a thick fish fillet. It’s typically reserved for the boneless cuts.