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I have a pork butt that is seared quickly then simmered on the stove in marinade for hours. I like to choose very marbled pork because it's just so much juicier. Anyway, the pork turns out real nice, melt-in-your-mouth texture, the problem is it's really hard to cut a slice without it crumbling to pieces because it's so soft. (Yes, I did wait until it cools down to room temp)

Is there a way to solve this?

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3 Answers 3

It will probably be much more amenable to slicing at refrigerator temperatures, as the gelatin you have created from the long, slow braise is much more solid.

However, most people would consider fork-tender pork a positive outcome.

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Thanks, so just to clarify, you recommend cooling it even more until the gelatin turns jello-like, which will hold the rest of the meat structure together better. –  pixelfreak Feb 26 '13 at 0:10
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It will probably work, but what I personally recommend is shredding it with two forks and enjoying. –  SAJ14SAJ Feb 26 '13 at 0:16
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Agreed - you could almost call it 'pulling' the pork. I wonder if that will catch on... –  ElendilTheTall Feb 26 '13 at 8:56
    
@pixelfreak : if you cook it, chill it, slice it, and then reheat it, it'll hold its shape better ... if you're going to go this route, it might be better to cut it into more managable chunks rather than roasting a whole shoulder (so that you can cool it down easier). –  Joe Feb 26 '13 at 13:16
    
@Joe, the problem with roasting it in chunks is, more surface is exposed to the heat directly, which will produce a dryer meat unless I am doing sous-vide. Also, from my experience cutting raw meat properly is harder than cutting a cooked one. –  pixelfreak Feb 26 '13 at 18:48
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When you cut it, try propping it up a little on one side - say to maybe a 45 degree angle or so - so that the piece you are cutting off does not fall from the roast as you cut it. Depending on your situation, this may take some ingenuity to make it work right (without dumping the roast onto the floor... ;). As for the knife to use, try cutting it with a very sharp, thin but wide-bladed, long, non-serrated knife. You can use the wide blade to assist in transferring the cut of meat from the tilted roast to a plate when you complete your cut. Experiment with either making very long strokes as you cut, applying very little pressure and cutting on the forward stroke only, or by making very short strokes - again with very little pressure - maybe even cutting in both directions. One way may work better than the other as each technique will torque the meat in a different way. This is also situation dependent - depending on how each specific roast is marbled/etc.. The torque/twisting is what makes the meat fall apart, so you will have to keep a close watch on how your cuts are affecting the meat - and change your technique on the fly as you see fit.

If the wideness of the blade is still pulling too much as you make your cut, then try using a knife of the same style just mentioned, but with a narrow blade. Your cuts wont be as clean this way, but it may be necessary. Additionally, the narrow blade will also make it more more difficult to transfer the meat to a plate when you are done.

If the meat is so amazingly tender, it may also be necessary to place something behind the roast, where the blade exits, as you make your cuts. A small cutting board will work for this task. To better explain this, think of how an electric meat slicer at a deli supports the meat in two places. It supports the meat on the bottom, and it supports the meat very close to where the cutting wheel exits the meat. You want to duplicate this somehow.

If you are still having issues transferring the slice of meat from the "tilted" roast, after it is cut, try assisting your knife with a very thin and very wide metal flipper. To do this, gradually tilt the slice of meat up with your knife, and ease the flipper under it until you are supporting the entire slice of meat with the knife and the flipper - then transfer it to a plate.

There is a good chance that you may be able to successfully use this technique while the meat is still warm/hot (i.e. no prior cool down necessary).

This sounds so delicious you have to send me a slice!

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Thanks! Great info! I am curious if a commercial meat slicer would do the job well. Although, as far as I know, meat slicer doesn't "catch" the meat, it just lets it fall and that might break it. –  pixelfreak Feb 26 '13 at 18:43
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You need a slicing knife - a very thin, very long, very sharp blade, with kullens. Thin (measured top to bottom), because you don't need the heft or maneuverability of a chef's knife, and the less metal in contact with the meat as you cut it, the better. Long, because you don't want to saw at the meat - the metal that is in contact will pull a small amount as you slice, and changing direction will pull tender meat apart. The less back-and-forth, the better, and that means longer strokes, which means a longer knife. Kullens, as they "release" the blade's hold on the meat as you slice: you're reducing the surface area of the knife in contact with the meat, essentially (tho how much they actually help is somewhat in debate.)

It may be instructive to google "slicing brisket" - as BBQ brisket is a similarly tender and delicate dish, and the very active BBQ community have experience with the various slicing options to keep the slices intact. There are a number of messageboard posts and videos on the subject.

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"Kullens" is a shortening of kullenschliffs, maybe more commonly known in English as hollows - little hollowed out bits along the edge of the knife, like on this knife: messermeister.com/4.5-Inch-Kullenschliff-Steak-Knife –  Jefromi Feb 26 '13 at 18:19
    
Thanks, @RI! Great info! I am also curious if a commercial meat slicer would work. –  pixelfreak Feb 26 '13 at 18:41
    
To @Jerfromi's point I think it's also called Granton sometimes –  pixelfreak Feb 26 '13 at 18:57
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