We’ve all been there before. You’ve got an extra-thick steak or a massive chicken breast sizzling away on the grill or gas griddle. It looks done on the outside, but is it done on the inside?
If you don’t have a meat thermometer handy, the easy temptation is to simply cut right into it with a knife. Though this poses a whole bunch of other questions.
- If it isn’t done in the middle, will it affect the way the meat cooks on the grill?
- Is it “Food Safe” to cut meat on a grill?
- If the knife touches the grill grates or griddle top, will it damage the surface?
- Could I end up accidentally dulling my knife?
These are all valid questions and concerns that have run through the mind of many experienced grill masters. To help you safely cut meat on the grill, without cross-contamination, or damage to the knife of the grill grates we’re going to have to have to start by asking and answering some important questions
Can a Knife Damage Grill Grates?
It is possible for a knife blade to scruff or scrape some types of grill grates. Expanded metal, thick stainless steel, and chrome-plated grill grates can all be scraped by the aggressive slice of a sharp knife. Once they are damaged, that little imperfection on the grates can promote rusting, and become increasingly sticky when you put lean cuts of meat on it in the future.
It’s also worth noting that a knife can cut into the seasoning layer on a griddle. It can even scuff a cold-rolled steel griddle top.
The only time you don’t have to worry about a knife damaging grill grates or a griddle top is if it has a protective porcelain-coated surface. Though even with these, there is some concern about dulling the knife.
Can Contact with Grill Grates Dull a Knife?
The old saying is that steel sharpens steel. So, it’s also true that steel dulls steel. Especially if we’re talking about a high-quality knife and the blade is being driven with force, through a tough cut of meat and it contacts the metal of the grill grates or the griddle top surface.
Is It Safe to Cut Meat on a Griddle?
It’s relatively easy to cut tender pieces of meat on a griddle with a well-developed seasoning layer. With some extra-tender cuts like pork or beef tenderloin, you might even be able to cut through them with the edge of a spatula. Making sure there’s a fair amount of hot oil under the meat when you cut it will help keep it from sticking while also reducing the risk of scratching the griddle top’s vulnerable seasoning layer.
Is It Possible to Fix a Scratch in Seasoned Metal?
If you have grill grates or a griddle top made from cold-rolled steel with a protective seasoning layer, and you don’t use enough oil, or you are overly aggressive when cutting with a knife or a spatula, it can damage the seasoning layer. Not only can this leave you with a stubborn sticky spot it also leaves the cold-rolled steel vulnerable to rust and corrosion.
The good news is that you can usually fix the damaged seasoning layer without having to completely re-season the cold-rolled steel again.
This starts with letting the grill or griddle completely cool down. Then clean the affected area thoroughly, gently scraping away any food bits or loosened seasoning material. Then apply a neutral flavored oil, fire up the burners, and restart the seasoning process again. Except you only need to work on the small area without having to re-season every square inch of the grates or griddle top.
How to Cut Meat on Grill Grates
When cutting meat on grill grates, you want to try to arrange it so the knife slices down in between the grill rods. This avoids contact altogether to prevent dulling the knife or scraping the surface of the grates.
Some backyard chefs prefer to keep an old knife out by the grill for cutting into steaks, chops, and chicken breasts to check their doneness. The thinking is that if something goes wrong with an old knife, it’s no big loss.
The counterpoint to this line of thinking is that an old knife is more likely to be dull. Dull knives inevitably are more likely to cause accidents as you have to force the blade more than you do with a sharp knife. Dull knives also tend to tear into the meat just as much as they cut through it. So, the final steak or piece of chicken will have a jagged scar on it. The torn meat fibers are also more likely to let precious internal meat juices out.
The wisest move is to use a sharp knife with a secure grip.
The Best Knives for Cutting Meat on a Grill
Cutting Meat on the Grill with a Cutting Board
There are several grill accessory manufacturers who offer cutting boards that are designed to make it easy to cut meat on the grill or griddle top. Blackstone even offers a high-quality wooden cutting board that is specifically engineered to be placed on the hot griddle cooktop.
This makes it easier to cut a tougher piece of meat, such as an inside skirt steak or flank steak to slice it thin on the cutting board, before serving it to your guests.
There are several wood and heat-resistant silicone cutting board that is specifically designed to fit the side tables to be ready for use on the grill or griddle top at a moment’s notice. These are often dual-purpose cutting boards that let you hold vegetables at the griddle side when you want to work in batches, or you need a cutting board to slice directly into a hot piece of meat.
When it comes to choosing between wood and silicone cutting boards, wood can sometimes be cheaper. However, rigid silicone is also more friendly to knives. It also tends to be quick and easy to wash, which can come in handy for preventing cross-contamination from certain meats like chicken. Though with either type, the wise move is to pull the meat off the heat to the cutting board, rather than putting the cutting board directly over the flame.
The Best Grill Side Cutting Boards