What’s Your Cutting Preference?

With the holiday’s over and the decorations finally put away, I thought I’d get back to my blog!  I have not really been disconnected from it having many opportunities to think about what I wanted to talk about (since I’m not back to school until next week).  The most recent opportunity came when my husband and I were out snowmobiling in the Unitas.  With the gorgeous scenery all around, John in the far off distance and the loud noise of the engine, I had ample to time to let random thoughts go through my mind.  Fortunately for me, mine are always in blog-talk and about cooking.

My thoughts were about a very special gift my husband gave me for Christmas.  A very special knife gift indeed.  Being a cook (not a chef yet) I use my knives daily and all of them for their individual purposes.  But even with the great knives I currently own, I longed to have the “Red Rider” of knives.  The Wusthof Santoku(San-toe-koo).  It is a knife that could almost replace my chefs knife and I have used that one for YEARS as my right hand.

While I still find my Cook’s knife of great value and for many uses, the bulk of my cutting now comes from the Santoku.  What a dream to use!

So my post isn’t to brag about this wonderful knife but rather to give information about knives.  I was asked once what would be a good knife to own if you had to own just one.  Well, now it would be the Santoku…but I believe all the knives have a purpose and should be considered when purchasing them.

Not being a cutlery expert in any regard, I will give my opinion and you can explore the options from there.

Knives can be as personal as the clothes you choose to wear.  It all depends on the way you plan to use them.  But choosing a knife that will help make your cutting experience easier is the ultimate goal.  If you have to saw what you are cutting then either your knives need to be sharpened or you need new knives.  A knife should glide through what you are cutting with as little effort as possible.  Meat should cut like butter, bread should cut like- bread!  Cutting up a chicken should be relatively easy and without much effort.  I learned this at school!  Until I cut up a chicken in a classroom setting for the first time, I didn’t realize that it was quiet easy when you have sharp knives and you cut through the joints!  Even when I missed the joint and cut through the bones, it wasn’t difficult at all.  (Beef bones are another story altogether and maybe someday I will tell of the butchering experience we had in class – fun stuff!)

So here are my knives.  They are Wusthof knives from about 7 or 8 years ago.  The handles look a little different from the knives sold today and the blades don’t have the Wusthof stamp but the blades are all the same.

From left to right:  Santoku, Cook’s (Chef’s) Knife, 9 inch Carver, Bread Knife, 5 inch Boning Knife, 5 inch Tomato Knife, 3 inch Pairing Knife

The Santoku is my new right hand.  Like I said before, I use it for everything but shaving my legs (that could have it’s problems).  Originating in Japan, it is considered to be a cross between the cooks knife and a meat cleaver. It’s very sharp and is considered to be one of the most popular knives in the kitchen!  As the Ginsu master would say, “It slices, it dices!”  It even minces and chops.  And most of all, it does it with precision.  I LOVE THIS KNIFE!

The Cook’s Knife is aptly named. (I think they renamed the “Chefs” knife to make it more approachable to the home “Cooks”.  It’s a “PC” thing!)  It is made for chopping, slicing, and dicing and provides versatility and ease that most other knives do not, except for the Santoku.  Still love this knife (just a slight change in the relationship).

In my opinion, these two knives (or at least one of them) is a must have in every kitchen!

As for the rest of the knives, I use my bread knife a lot now that I make my own bread.  The pairing knife is a great knife for pealing apples, carrots etc.  My kids use this one a great deal as well.  Madison (7) uses it as her “cook’s knife”!  I do use the boning knife when I am deboning a chicken…but that really only happens a few times in a year.  It isn’t much fun and the effort is never truly appreciated.  My tomato knife, I don’t even think they make any more.  It certainly isn’t in any of the sets I recently looked at on the Wusthof website.   Well, my kids and I use it a great deal for –tomatoes!  And lastly the  Carver Knife.  I use it for carving and slicing.  It is a wonderful knife that probably doesn’t get as much use anymore because of my Santoku.  I would recommend all of my knives to anyone (doesn’t matter the brand) but more importantly get the knives that you will most likely use.  Knives can be a big investment if you choose to get good ones, so consider how you will use them carefully!

But even a good knife can loose it’s glamour and shine when used and abused.  That is why taking a little care of your knives will lead you to years of a happy relationship with them.  Periodically they will need to be sharpened, and not with a home sharpening tool or the carbon steel that comes with a knife set.  Not only can these make a dull knife worse if you don’t know how to use them but they don’t even come close to sharpening the way a professional will.  I try to have my knives sharpened at least once a year but 2 or 3 is ideal depending on how much you use them.  Also keep in mind that no matter what the manufacture says about dishwasher safe, NEVER put your knives in the dishwasher.  It dulls the blade quicker and that means more time and money getting them resharpened.  That isn’t the goal!

So, there you have it!  My little diddy about knives.

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