If you’ve ever prepared ribs, you might have noticed a thin membrane on one side of the cut. This connective membrane is known as “silver skin,” and it is typically found on meat cuts such as ribs and tenderloins.
Silver skin is slightly visible when it is raw and attached to the meat. However, whenever I cook it, this skin turns chewy and is practically inedible. Today, I’ll tell you what I know about silverskin and how I remove it easily from meat cuts. I’ll also explain in detail if removing this layer of tissue is necessary.
Silver skin is a thin layer of a protein membrane that covers the animal’s skeletal muscle. The main function of the silverskin is to support and separate muscle groups so they can slide past each other easily.
This layer of tissue gets its name from its silvery sheen and is found on the underside of the ribs and larger portions of meat. This thin membrane is often absent from chops and steaks.
Silver skin does not melt when cooked like other connective tissue like collagen. This is because elastin, a different sort of protein that makes up the silver skin, has a different reaction to cooking at high temperatures. For instance, collagen softens when exposed to heat, but elastin does the opposite and toughens when you cook it.
Luckily, removing silverskin from your meat cut is easy with a sharp knife. Here’s how to remove this layer quickly.
The first step is to locate the silver skin. Then, pat the meat dry with a paper towel so the meat is easier to grip.
Remember, the silverskin’s color would be different from the other parts of the meat. It is easier to start cutting the silver skin from the edge of the meat cut to the center.
Next, bring out your sharp boning knife! Then slightly pinch the silver skin and carefully glide the knife under the silver skin layer. Avoid digging too much into the meat. Hold onto the silver skin firmly while tilting the knife blade upward. Remember to gently pull the skin as you cut.
Start cutting the silverskin slowly from one end towards the middle of the meat. Cutting the meat slowly gives you more control and prevents you from accidentally cutting through the silver skin into the meat. Continue cutting until you have completely stripped the tenderloin of its silver skin.
The answer depends on the meat cut covered with silverskin. On certain cuts, keeping the skin on helps. For instance, most people prefer to leave the protein membrane on the bone side of beef ribs.
The rationale behind this is to provide the meat with support during the cooking process since it shrinks under high heat.
When it comes to pork tenderloin, I recommend cutting the silverskin because the meat tends to corkscrew when cooked with the silverskin.
With cuts like beef back ribs, where the meat is located between the bones, the membrane doesn’t often help much and will reduce your meat yield. The membrane will also hinder your meat from fully absorbing the smokey flavor of the grill. So, it would be best to cut the skin in these areas.
A butcher will help you remove the silver skin; all you must do is ask. However, it’s possible that the rib membrane is still attached to your factory-packed rack of ribs.
The silverskin is primarily removed because it is practically inedible and doesn’t improve the flavor of food. Silverskin is exceedingly chewy, making it unpleasant to consume, and unlike fat, it won’t render or melt. Instead, it will shrink, and twist the meat.
Silver skin develops on chickens as they age due to increased mineral and calcium intake. Removing this transparent tissue from the whole chicken is as easy as removing it from a rib rack. Fortunately, silverskin is typically removed when the bird is processed.
The silverskin is a tough membrane that can make your meat cuts feel chewier.
Even though some barbecue enthusiasts think it’s unnecessary and irritating to remove the silverskin, I recommend removing the membrane from most cuts of meat. So, get your sharp knife ready and start cutting. However, there are some exceptions for cuts of meat like beef back ribs.