Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Know Your Knives

Home chefs have to have as many skills as their professional counterparts. One of the most important is good knife skills. Not having them can result in many accidents that can be avoided by just  brushing up on techniques. Yes, a good  sharpened knife helps but also a good grip is vital too.

Julia Moskin covered this in today's New York Times Food section. Ms. Moskin herself, a renown chef , and who has countless meals under her belt was chopping all wrong.She and most home chefs may have had the knife in what;s called a"death grip".   a too tight grasp on the hilt or handle. Try to relax and let the blade do the work.The hand holding the knife is called the cutting hand while the other, is the helping hand. The last should be curled in a bear claw position with the fingertips curled under and the knuckles pressing down on the ingredient being cut to prevent any sliding or rolling.This prevents any fingers getting sliced. Another way is to bunch the fingertips together and rest the pads on top of the ingredient. There are different types of slicing and cutting. The most common is dicing , using done to onions and peppers. which  is done in a grid to produce uniformly sized pieces. Julienne is used for some salad ingredients and potatoes.It's slicing lengthwise to produce long , slender pieces. Then there are chiffonades usually done for leafy ingredients such as basil. The leaves are rolled cigar tlike and the knife cuts them in a rocking back and forth There is also the roll cut used for carrots and larger vegetables. I involves as imagined rolling and cutting into irregular wedges.

What knives should be in a kitchen?. One of the most important is the chef's knife. It has a broad, tapering blade , sharp tip and chunky handle.Ms. Moskin recommends practicing with one to make for a better cook. Home chefs should start with an eight inch knife with a plastic blade and then graduate to a ten inch one. Remember to buy ones with comfortable handles and blades thicker than at the base than at the tip. The second most important knife is a utility. Since they're in constant use in home kitchens, it pays to have three or four.Their short handles, usually three to four inches long , make for easy gripping and easy control.They are best used on small ingredients such as shallots, mushrooms and peaches.. The plastic handled ones are the best choice and since they're so inexpensive, there's no guilt when they go dull and have to be thrown out. A serrated knife is the third knife home chefs should have in their arsenal.A ten inch serrated blade is not only great for slicing through baguettes and loaves but also for butternut squash, lemons and watermelons along with soft skinned veggies like tomatoes and  eggplants. Remember that all knives have to be honed and sharpened , ideally on a daily  basis but once a week is good too.

Knives are a vital tool in creating good meals and desserts. Have the necessary  ones to do just this along with good cutting skills. It will make for easy prepping and cooking.

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