Monday, February 17, 2014

Kitchen Essentials...The Chef's Knife

It's Monday and that means time for my kitchen essentials post.  Actually, this SHOULD have been my first post, because anyone who is learning to cook, or building a kitchen, needs to begin with their foundation, The one item that you cannot do with out in ANY kitchen is a CHEF'S KNIFE! 
Now, I know that these knives can be a little intimidating, but I have a few tips to help you choose the perfect knife for you, and how to build your confidence using it!

Like with anything else, all chef's knives are not created equal.  Just because it looks pretty, or not-so-pretty for that matter, doesn't mean it is the right knife for you.  I am going to be honest and say that if you are going to invest (and trust me, a good knife IS an investment) in a good knife I recommend going to a reputable kitchenware store where they have knowledgeable people to help you through this process.   

For me, that is a great little, locally owned place, called The Cook's Shop.

They have a great selection of knives along with knowledgeable and friendly people to help my make the right decisions! 

After you find some knives that are esthetically pleasing to you, you are going to want to hold them.  A good knife should feel like and extension of your arm.  Did you know that there is a right and wrong way to hold a knife?  Neither did I!  Here, let me walk you through this so you don't have to feel as silly as I did my first time out.  *lol*

First you want to grab the knife with your pointer and thumb on either side of the knife above the bolster.  Kind of like a pinch! 

Now, bring the handle into your hand and...

wrap the rest of your fingers around it.

See, now your knife is like that extension of your arm and you are in full control of it's movements.  :)

Thinks to think about while you are holding it:

  1. The Weight of Your Knife.  Heavier is not always better.  You want a knife that feels good in your hand.  It should not feel heavy and cumbersome. 
  2. The Balance.  An unbalanced knife will make you work hard for your cuts.  If you feel pull or tug to one side or another, choose another knife. 
  3. The Size.  I HIGHLY recommend the 8 inch knife.  It is big enough for those big jobs in your kitchen, but not so big it is intimidating.  The 6 inch, in my opinion, is just not big enough. 
  4. The Handle.   The handle should feel good in your hand.  Your fingers should fit well around it.  It should be comfortable. 
There are sooooo many knives out there to choose from and it can seem overwhelming I hope these tips have made it a little less daunting, but just in case you want a little more help, here are some suggestions. 

My weapon of choice is the Wusthof-Trident Classic. 
  This knife will cost you about $130.00, BUT, if taken care of, it will last you the rest of your life!

However, if you are looking for a MUCH more economical choice, America's Test Kitchen recommends the Victorinox (photo courtesy of Amazon). 

It will cost you about $30. 

Once you have purchased your knife, there is some care involved.  For example, NEVER put your knives in the dishwasher or let them set in a sink of hot water.  This can and will warp your blade.  Wash them with a rag and warm, soapy water.  Rinse and dry immediately.  You will want a honing tool.  This will help keep your knife's blade honed and sharp and working properly.  Most kitchen cuts come as a result of a dull knife.  And finally, store it in a block, on a wall magnet, or in a drawer organizer made for knives.  This will help the blades from getting chipped or bent. 

Like I said before, not all knives are created equal.  It is an investment in your kitchen, and it may take some time to find the right one, but once you do, it will not disappoint.  I hope you have found this post useful and would love to hear your feedback and tips as well.  And as always...

Happy Reading, Happy Eating, and Happy Living,

~The Kitchen Wife~


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