This smaller-sized carving knife has a thin blade edge and a nicely tapered point; extra points for being hollow-ground.
It's a little unwieldy with smaller poultry carcasses.
If you usually cook moderate-sized roasts and turkeys, this is a decent carving knife for the money. If you usually carve for crowds, go for a 10-inch blade.
A carving knife is something a lot of us assume we need only for grand public events, like holiday dinners. The antler-handled carving set in a velvet-lined box was a standard wedding gift once. On Thanksgiving, dads would ceremoniously remove it from the dining-room credenza’s drawer, give the knife a few passes on the sharpening steel, and steady the turkey with the double-pronged fork before going to work. It’s not like that anymore. Carving knives have morphed from ornamental to utilitarian, the blade in your knife holder that you reach for once or twice a week, to deal with pork tenderloin or skirt steak. Some cooks let their chef's knife (or Japanese equivalent) perform double duty as a slicer, though having one with adequate blade length is key. Still, navigating poultry carcasses is a lot different from dealing with boneless roasts, plus the ceremonial aspect of holiday slicing hasn’t exactly vanished: Ideally, you want to cut the holiday bird with something that looks cool in front of company. German-made Wüsthofs are go-to chef's and paring knives for many home cooks—what about a slicer? We picked up a Grand Prix II Carving Knife to see how it would deal with roasted meats.
Grand Prix II is Wüsthof’s contemporary line, more streamlined than its better-known Classic series. The 8-inch is the shortest of the Grand Prix II carving options (the others are 9 and 10 inches)—it’s designed for slicing smaller roasts (the total length is just over 13 inches). The blade, the bolster (i.e., the neck, the thick piece of steel between blade and handle), and the tang (the hidden metal that extends through the length of the handle) are a single piece of forged high-carbon steel. The fine-edged blade is hollow-ground, meaning it has a series of indentions running the length of the blade on both sides; they prevent food from sticking to the blade, and in theory allow for thinner slices. The seamless handle is made of synthetic material with a finely articulated texture that keeps your hand from slipping, even when greasy. It has a gently curved profile with pretty good ergonomics (in other words, it fit comfortably into our slicing hand). It comes with a limited lifetime warranty against factory defects.
We deployed our Wüsthof Grand Prix II on a couple of real-life roasts: a medium-rare flank steak and a whole roasted chicken.
Flank steak: The Grand Prix II carver took on our seared, oven-finished, and properly rested 1-pound cut of flank steak much better than our chef's knife usually does. The Wüsthof has a blade thin enough to make it a supple handler: It sliced thin bias cuts against the grain like a champ. The balance was good, the bolster didn’t get in the way, and the edge was thin enough to deal with the beef’s loose structure.
Chicken: As for our 4-1/2-pound roasted chicken, the Grand Prix II was slightly harder to steer. It broke down the bird into composite parts readily enough (the blade tip tapers to a really fine point just right for finding joint seams through brittle, slippery poultry skin and hot flesh). But it was clumsy for slicing a relatively small carcass, mostly because it felt heavy in our hand.
General stuff: Overall, this is pretty good carver for smaller roasts. We’d recommend it for dealing with moderately sized boneless cuts and turkeys. If you habitually cook larger roasts, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to a 10-inch blade. As for smaller poultry, we’ll stick with our thinner, lighter, and more agile utility knife.
Photos by Chris Rochelle