Ina Garten's Pro-Tip For Super Thin Shaved Steak

If you want a good Philly cheesesteak, beef bulgogi, or stir-fry, you're going to want that steak cut thin ... really thin. For starters, thinly slicing steak is convenient, as it helps you cook it quicker. It's especially useful on tough pieces of beef, which tend to be the most affordable and flavorful steak cuts but are often overlooked by cooks. Thinly shaving these cuts will spare your teeth from having to chew through masses of thick muscle fibers.

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In a restaurant or delicatessen, thinly shaving steak could easily be accomplished with a deli slicer, but for home cooks, it's a different story. Raw steaks are soft and moist, traits that make finely slicing the meat tricky. Fortunately, Ina Garten has a trick up her sleeve that makes these slices easy for any home cook.

The Barefoot Contessa host, cookbook author, and soon-to-be memoirist included a clever tip for thinly slicing steak in her 2018 book, "Cook Like a Pro." All you have to do is pop the steak in your freezer for a bit before slicing. Garten uses this technique to make beef carpaccio, an Italian appetizer of shaved raw beef with a light dressing. However, you could easily use Garten's method for any dish that requires thinly sliced beef.

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Your freezer is the key to shaving steak without a deli slicer

The reason raw steak is so difficult to cut in the first place is that it is soft (making it difficult for the knife to get a grip) and moist (making it hard to hold the steak in place as you slice it). A quick trip to the freezer solves both these issues. You should only freeze the meat for about 15 to 20 minutes, otherwise it will get too hard to cut.

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The other key to thinly shaved steak is to use a very sharp knife. Using a dull knife is not only inefficient, but also dangerous. You are more likely to cut yourself because you need to apply much more pressure for slicing, especially when you're dealing with something firm like a steak from the freezer. Make sure to sharpen your knives regularly, and if necessary, give it a touch-up before tackling your beef. Although Garten admits that there's no way for a home cook to slice beef quite as paper thin as they do at a deli, a nice sharp knife against a freezer-firmed steak should get you as close as possible.

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