A Cheapskate’s (Not) Guide to Cookware, Part III: Knives
August 12, 2010 § 1 Comment
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not trying to pose as any kind of authority on chopping, slicing, and general knife skills. Use knives at your own risk.
When it comes to knives, I love Wusthof, which I think it’s the best knife brand out there because I like the weight and the quality of their steel. It’s expensive, but it’s a life-long investment, and a good knife makes everything better. Besides, our set was given to us as a wedding gift from Jacob’s aunt Jeanne and uncle Jim (who is also our family’s gun guru), with the exception of the carving knife that was a gift from our friend Jane. These knives were something I specifically registered for, and if you are about to get married, and don’t already own a knife set you love, be sure to register for one!
This is actually the set that I own, with the exception of that weird-looking boning knife (second from left). Instead, my set includes a paring knife from this set (the one in the center) – a true workhorse in my kitchen despite of its diminutive size, and a pair of kitchen shears I find indispensable when it comes to carving roast chicken.
I actually rarely use chef’s knife beyond mincing stuff (something I don’t do very often) – I find it the least useful knife of all – I don’t know why everyone is so crazy about them. Of course, all day, everyday I try hard to not be like everyone else, so that goes with the theme.
Instead, my chopping and slicing best friend is the more slender carving knife, which I think is perfect for just about anything, except where really small things are involved, in which case I use the longer pairing knife. The pairing knife is also good for separating chicken breast from chicken if you are into that sort of thing, and it is also the knife I use for butchering chicken and deer (although carving knife also comes in handy for the latter).
I very occasionally use the smaller paring knife to remove cores from tomatoes, peel garlic, and other jobs like that.
The third knife I use the most is the 8″ bread knife, which I think is the perfect size for my hands (I hate those ultra-long ones – I find them unwieldy), and it’s also perfect for slicing tomatoes and watermelon.
Note that I don’t own a fillet knife, because I believe that filleting is against the laws of nature, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
Sharpening: The sharpening steel that comes with the set is not half-bad, although the best knife sharpener I’ve used to date is Chef’s Choice Multi-Edge sharpener. Let me explain why – to me, the hardest thing to do when sharpening a knife is maintaining a correct angle of the knife to the steel (approximately 45 degrees), but this sharpener does it for you – it has special wheels, and to assure that you got the knife at the correct angle, you need to make sure that it is leaning directy against the wheels and that the wheels are turning. Genius! Note that you do need to replace it every 5 years or so, but, at thirty bucks, I don’t see that as a problem.
The only knife I don’t currently own and am seriously considering getting is Wursthof Santoku knife, which I think will be great for mincing, and I also think that the square-ish shape is superior to the rounded shape of chef’s. (The indentations on the blade I believe are meant to make food not stick to the knife so much during slicing.)
And that’s it folks! Carving, bread, and paring knife is pretty much all I use on a daily basis.
Note: All links are used for illustrative purposes only.