Basic Techniques: How to Trim the Fat Off Meat

Like many of you, we've been recently buying more whole cuts of meat to use in braises and to stretch our food dollar a little further. These often come with a fair amount of fat and gristle still attached, which can make the final dish unpleasantly greasy if left on. Here's how to get rid of as much of that fat as possible!

Note: There are images of raw meat after the jump.

As always when working with meat, use a sharp knife. Check out our tutorials on sharpening and straightening knives if you think yours needs some help!

Set the cut of meat on a cutting board. Cut or pinch off a small tag of the fat toward the top.

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Still holding onto the tag of fat, set your knife in between this fat and the meat. Pull the tag of fat away from the meat so that it is taut and begin cutting downward in a slicing motion. Tilt the knife slightly toward the fat as you slice. If you cut straight downward, you'll end up going into the meat.

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As you trim the fat off, keep it taut and almost parallel to the cutting board. This will help pull it away from the meat and make it easier for you to cut accurately.

Go slowly and work in clean, smooth strokes. Don't try to remove all of the fat at once. Work in strips, starting over at the top of the meat each time. Like most things in the kitchen, practice makes perfect!

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If you so desire, you can render the fat by melting it over medium heat and then straining it. Rendered fat is good for cooking and frying.

Related: Food Science: Why Tough Meat Makes a Better Braise

(Image: Flickr member FotoosVanRobin licensed under Creative Commons and Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)

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