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How to Butterfly

The Martha Stewart Show

Butterflying is a technique for splitting food horizontally without cutting all the way through; when opened up, the food resembles a butterfly shape. You can apply this technique to poultry, beef, pork, and seafood. The result is a uniform thickness that cooks evenly.


Beginning on the thicker side, hold a sharp knife parallel to the cutting surface, and slice the food almost completely in half without cutting all the way through. After you butterfly the food, open and flatten it; you may have to pound it to an even thickness.

To pound and flatten, place the food between two pieces of parchment. Using a mallet or the back of a pan, pound the food until it is even throughout, being careful not to tear it.

What to Butterfly

You can butterfly most meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish. Examples include chicken, leg of lamb, pork roast, Cornish hen, flank steak, large shrimp, and more. Butterflied foods such as pork roast and leg of lamb are perfect for stuffing.

Recipes for Butterflying

Now that you've learned the basics of butterflying, try some of Martha's favorite recipes: Stuffed Pork Loin, Herbed Butterflied Leg of Lamb , and Lemon Chicken Cutlets

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