The other day, I was in my kitchen cooking a meal and I needed to chop an onion. Indiscriminately, I picked up my go-to knife and started chopping away. Midway through, I glanced up at my knife block. I began to take a mental inventory of what knives I had and how often I used them. The truth is, despite having several differently shaped and sized knives, I predominately use only two of them. So, I decided to look into my different knives, how they should be used, and whether there were knives I didn’t have that I should get. Since knife work is such a crucial part of cooking, I thought I’d share my discoveries to help others in their preparations, ensuring both safer and higher quality cooking. Here’s what I discovered:
These oddly shaped blades aren’t used for cutting. More of a hard spatula than a knife, these non-essential, but nice-to-have tools are great for butters, jams, cream cheese, and anything else of similar consistency/softness. They perform better than table knives for such things because they often have shorter blades—perfect for spreading butter without destroying your bread.
Around the holidays, turkeys, hams, and roasts are ultra popular. In order to properly serve meal-sized portions to your guests, you’ll need to slice up the meat. To do this well requires an implement up to the challenge of slicing even, thin, long pieces. Your best bet is to use a slicing or carving knife with a carving fork. Their long, non-serrated blades are perfect for churning out perfect slices of turkey or pork roast.
These massive, heavy, semi-scary looking things are surprisingly versatile. If you’re dealing with large, bone-in cuts of meat you need to cut down before cooking, the meat cleaver will be your best friend. These are great for vertically halving ribs, or cutting up a bone-in prime rib, for instance. Your other knives aren’t made for cutting through large bones, and using them could be unsafe and damaging to the blades. Additionally, because of their weight and varied non-cutting edges, meat cleavers work as great makeshift meat tenderizers too.
After this little exercise, I know I’ve underutilized the vast majority of cutting tools in my kitchen. I also know that I should pick up a few more items (like bread and tomato knives). Hopefully you’ve gotten some ideas that can help make your meal prep a bit easier too.
While you have utensils in mind, check out all the different kinds of spoons!
Related Video: 5 Ways to Take Better Care of Your Knives, According to Chefs
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