Michael Symon's Knife Tip For Removing Tough Silver Skin From Pork

Michael Symon is no stranger to meat. Be it his favorite cut of beef steak, how to make your own restaurant-quality bacon at home, or his tips for great grilling, the Cleveland chef and television personality isn't shy about sharing with audiences what he knows about selecting and preparing top-tier meats. Symon even developed his own Eastern European-influenced, mustard-drenched regional style of barbecue — Cleveland-style, naturally — that he serves at his casual downtown restaurant Mabel's.

Anyone who has cooked a cut or two of pork knows it is made for the grill, whether that be a sizzling sear on a leaner cut, like tenderloin, or a low and slow smoke for tougher, yet richer cuts, like a Boston butt. Likely, one is also aware that pork needs to be properly butchered and prepared in order for it to optimally cook, be that on a grill or elsewhere. That means removing any extraneous bits that could render cuts tough or distasteful, such as silver skin.

Silver skin is a type of connective tissue that is found on various cuts of pork, such as the back of the ribs and the ends of the loin and tenderloin. When exposed to the heat of cooking, the elastin in silver skin becomes tough and can cause cuts to become misshapen as it contracts. Thankfully, Symon has a trick for removing silver skin that excises the unwanted while leaving the meat intact.

Cut up

Being general on the exterior of most cuts of pork, silver skin is fairly easy for the home chef to remove with the help of a sharp knife. Symon, in a video on the Food Network's YouTube channel, advises carefully sliding the blade under the silver skin without cutting too deep into the underlying meat. He then slowly cuts as he angles the blade up and away from the meat. This allows the two to almost seamlessly separate, and the silver skin can then be discarded.

When cooking ribs, be they spare ribs or baby back ribs, you'll also want to get the silver skin off, but for these cuts, the removal method is slightly different. In another Food Network video on YouTube, Symon shows how easy it is. First, flip the ribs so that the bones are facing up. Though hard to see, the silver skin is the thin membrane covering the bones and meat on this side. He advises taking a thick kitchen towel (important for gripping the slippery silver skin), finding the end point, and simply pulling the tissue off in one piece. This serves two purposes: One, it ensures the meat isn't marred by a leathery segment, and two, it allows for the smoke and rub or marinade to penetrate deeper into the meat.