Sunday, November 13, 2011

Silverskin Blues

The other day we had to denude 15 boneless pork loins to make a bunch of clean 4 oz. cutlets. Part of the process is to peel off the silver collagen on the outside of the loin. First I trimmed off the thin fat layer and then carefully inserted the knife under the collagen and peeled it off in strips trying to minimize the amount of meat taken off. This takes time and skill.

Removing collagen from the outside of cuts is something we teach at the CIA for cuts that are going to be sauteed. Denuding beef tenderloins for saute or carpaccio, veal leg sub primals for cutlets or scallopine, pork loins for medallions, or lamb loins for noisette, is part of the skill set a trained chef or butcher needs for creating refined meat portions. The skill also applies to fish butchery. Peeling a salmon is a common task that our students learn in the seafood class. Peeling a salmon and denuding a porkloin are cleaned very differently with the salmon laid skin side down and flat on the table while the loin is peeled skin up. So while peeling the loin I decided to see what would happen if I flipped it over and tried to clean it like a salmon. After a few gouges and mis-fires I got the hang of it. Instead of a thin section removed I got almost all of the silver off in one shot. It was not easy but it was fast! So next time your peeling a thick collagen band off a piece of meat, think like a fish butcher and flip it over, skin side down.

Large processors no longer peel either siver skin on meat or salmon skin. Today we have automated skinning machines that can do the job in seconds. The salmon skinner is super fast and requires basically no skill. Meat skinners require a little skill and the worker must where special gloves that shut off the machine if contact is made.