You've probably seen it mentioned in recipes for beef, pork, and lamb, calling for you to "trim the silver skin" and remove the fat. But what exactly is silver skin, and why does it need to be removed?
What Is Silver Skin?
Named for its silvery white sheen, silver skin is the thin membrane of connective tissue found on various meats. You're most likely to find silver skin on larger cuts of meat — most often pork, beef, and lamb tenderloins — and on the underside of ribs. Steaks and chops are typically free from the tough membrane.
Unlike other connective tissue — like collagen, which slowly dissolves into gelatin during cooking — silver skin does not break down. When left attached to the meat, it cooks up tough and chewy and can cause the tenderloin to curl. Cutting this membrane away before cooking is always your best bet.
Remove Silver Skin Before Cooking
To remove the silver skin, do the following steps: At one end of the meat, slide the tip of the knife between the silver skin and the flesh. Carefully glide the knife along the meat, pulling the silver skin away at the same time. It's relatively quick and easy, and best accomplished using a very sharp paring knife. The challenging part is removing the silver skin without taking off any meat, but the more you do it, the easier it will get.
Don't feel confident about cutting away the silver skin yourself? Not a problem! This is just one of many things your grocery store butcher can help you out with. Along with removing bones and cubing and grinding meat, the butcher can also remove the silver skin from meat.