The best kitchen knife you can have – Part two

Part two, continued from part one.

Sets of knives: My advice for what it’s worth, Do not buy a set of knives and do not buy a set of cookware. It may look pretty in the knife block, or hanging from the hanging pan rack. But that’s because half of them will never be used. Buy what you need and sometimes buy what you want.  A set of anything will include stuff you will never use.

Second piece of advice:  If you have a partner, do not make them conform to what you like. I am not a Cutco fan, but the handles fit my wife’s hand and she likes them. Francene is less likely to hurt herself using what she likes than using something that doesn’t feel right to her. Or using what I want her to use.

Knife brands I would recommend would be Henckel’s Pro, I don’t care for the International line from experience, They are just a knife set with a block, standard wedding present. The Shun Classic is good if you like their D handle.  One side is bulged to fit the hand better. So if you’re left handed you will need to special order them. If you don’t want to display them, then I would opt for the Shun Sora line.  Less money because they less fancy. The Sora line was designed for the restaurant line cook or sous chef.

Mac knives are excellent for the money.  They also come in many of the Japanese styles such as Nakiri and a wonderful birds peak paring knife.

Global knives are very stylish and have a metal handle that is textured for grip.

Victorinox, I still buy them. Wusthof Classics, makes probably the best flexible boning knife available.

The point is, you can buy some really good knives without breaking the bank.

I have list just a few of the many excellent kitchen knives available. Beware of the 10 best articles as these have been written to sell knives & not provide any real world advice.

High end knives: If you want to spend the money, go for them. Sure to impress the knowledgeable guest but won’t really slice and dice any better then a true professional knife.

Forschner by Victorinox, straight boning knife, I had it’s curved mate but seldom used it. Gave it to my son Trevor.

Every kitchen needs a boning knife. It can be used for so many tasks.

I have used it several times to de-bone a turkey, cut out and remove the skeleton from a whole turkey (except leg and thigh bones). Then double stuff to reshape the bird, roast, and when you serve, you cut across the grain and serve a slice of both turkey meat and stuffing together. Yummy.

It’s thin blade is just perfect for getting into joints or sliding around a curved shoulder blade.

Honorable mention, first Santuko style knife I ever bought.

The Spyderco Santoku. This knife really does the job. It’s a blend of the Japanese Santoku and Western Chef’s knife.

If I had to settle on 2 or 3 knives, this might be in the kit. Although it is seldom used anymore.

Replace with more job specif styles. I had two, gave one to my son Trevor (local sous Chef) who admits it’s still one of his favorites.

This I would give as a wedding present, with the advice that the glamorous knives stay in the block for display, but use the hell out this one. Great knife.

It is also a knife I would keep in an emergency pack.

Another Victorinox, a slicer with granton edge, to keep the food from sticking to the blade. Great handle, ultra sharp, just ask the emergency room.

This was a Christmas present from Francene, she saw how often I used my 50 year old slicer and surprised me with this.

The 50 year old Victoronix slicer, still super sharp and well used. Now supplemented, not replaced by a new 14 inch slicer with a granton edge.

These two slicers are used for so many chores with the number one use being slicing pork shoulder into strips for making sausage. The 14 inch length enables the cuts to be made in one stroke.

Joyce Chen, unless you need a serious Chinese cleaver / knife.  The Joyce Chen is light, thin and strong enough to be a cleaver and thin enough to slice and dice. It also holds a great edge.

Joyce Chen cleaver.  I had two of these and gave one to my brother. I stumbled across this odd tv show in the early 90’s, The Iron Chef, and was hooked with the first episode. Did I learn to cook from it?  No. Did I ever try to duplicate one of their dishes?  No. Have I watched every single episode?  Yes.

I have video’s of all the episodes and still go back and watch one when nothing else on TV looks good.

I loved watching Chen Kenichi wield his Chinese knife.  The things he could do with that thin bladed cleaver. This is an exaggeration because I don’t really know the real numbers, but it seams the Japanese use 40 different style blades and the Chinese use two. How do they do it?

Anyway, you can’t get the Joyce Chen anymore (retail) but there are many good knife/cleavers out there. Not to be confused with a 5 pound thick bone cleaver. Most of them seem to be in the $25.00 range.

Mine gets used mostly for prepping chicken, I like to halve my bone in chicken breasts and will set the cleaver where I want the cut and use a rubber mallet to give a firm tap.  The results are super clean cut with out damaging a more delicate knife.

Cutco again, but this one I love. We have tried other cheese knives, some with the fork on the end.

Doesn’t matter, this is the best out out there.

J.A. Henckels International set. Bread slicer.  Hey, it slices bread.  You don’t need to spend big bucks for that. Rest of set is in the garage.

Messermeister Ceramic Rod Knife Sharpener, 12-Inch.  I don’t recommend this as a primary knife sharpener or as a steel, but somewhere in between both. I have used steels for years but have switched to this ceramic rod. It will remove a bit of steel and will do a bit of sharpening while using it.

The fine edge of a properly sharpened knife does not dull easily, but the very edge tip will start to cant or roll to one side. A steel is used to straighten that edge out again.

All knives will need to be sharpened if you use them. When I first started sharpening knives I started with the kitchen sharpeners that were a godsend to the ordinary house wife, but should be banned and destroyed. I will even include the Chefschoice sharpeners in that statement.

Learn to use a stone or send them out. There is not a more dangerous a kitchen tool then a dull or badly sharpened knife. Not all knives get sharpened to the same degree.  The blade thickness will vary the angle of the edge as well as the style of the knife determining the angle of the edge. You may also have a single edge knife.

It takes time, practice and patience to properly sharpen a knife. But that edge should last up to six months as long as you care for the knife and use a steel to realign the edge. How long has it been since yours where sharpened?

Don’t replace the blade, sharpen it. Then if it won’t hold the edge, replace it.

I will do a post on knife sharpening.  If you choose to do it yourself.

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The best kitchen knife you can have – Part one

What are good kitchen knives?  They are the ones you will use.  I don’t care if they are stamped, forged blades or if they cost $50.00 or $500.00.

Stamped blade, forged, type of steel, Damascus style, It doesn’t really make a difference as long as they maintain an edge for a reasonable time and it feels good in your hand. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s recommended by Alton Brown or Emeril.

Below are my knives.  Some you will laugh at & some you will not. Under each knife I will give a little history about why it’s still around.

Knives with the name Forschner are made by Victorinox, the makers of the Swiss army knife. Some would say they are entry level, and by price, they are. I have 4 in use and gave my curved boning knife to my son, Trevor.

When I bought them, they where the knives you bought when you went to a restaurant supply as well as a cutlery shop. Of course, the years where in the late 1960’s. So are they any good? I’m still using them even though I have purchased knives like the Shun Reserve.  Victorinox knives are still sold by all the restaurant supply outlets.

Restaurant Chefs care more about utility than hype. These knives are put to the test daily.

Mine are stamped steel, wood handled with the exception of my Fibrox handled Slicer my wife bought me for Christmas, 2017. So I would say they are darn good knives. And they will hold an edge.

This post just became to long so it was split into part one and part two.

Forschner by Victorinox – This is the 10-inch chefs knife, a bit big for most home kitchen chopping blocks.  The 8 inch Victorinox is the standard for today home cook. I have big hands and when I want to slice and dice a lot, out it comes. This knife has stayed in the kitchen since new. It has been abused in ways that should be a crime, but it never gave up and I have come to love and pamper it.

My Shun Reserve – 8 inch chef’s knife with a big belly (large arc to the blade).  It feels good in my hand and is used more and more over the 8 inch Santuko.

It’s used when the 10 inch chefs knife is just to big. I bought it at the Kershaw / Shun factory (warehouse) sale in Tualatin Oregon.

I fell in love with it when I held it, and turned a blind eye to it’s ridiculous price.

When Francene isn’t using her Petite Santoku, this is in her hand.

Calphalon –  Not recognized as a professional cooks knife, I purchased it because of the price and I wanted a Santoku. I found it awkward at first, because of the handle shape, but then I choked up on the blade and used as it should be used.  Thumb and outside of the number one finger on the blade. I actually choke up on most of the big knives I use.  Just holding the handle doesn’t feel like I have the control I want.

This is a  pusher, not a rock and roller I grew to appreciate the grip. I have seen Santoku’s that appeal to me, but not enough to replace the one I have.

Calphalon Nakiri – This is NOT a cleaver, so don’t use it like one. I watched a YouTube of some person chopping the crap out of a chicken and telling us it was a cleaver.  Oh, the shame of it.

The Nakiri is a Japanese vegetable slicer.  You push the blade down and away from you. A very comfortable motion once you try it. This kitchen knife is here to stay.

Cutco –  I don’t care for them because of the handle shape, I have very large hands. I also can’t get them to hold an edge for very long. I think when you send them in to be sharpened by Cutco they put a micro serration on the edge so they appear sharper than  they really are.

Advertising hype, like surgical grade stainless steel doesn’t mean anything. But they are made in America.

Why do I have it, Francene likes it. It’s her go-to knife and she likes the way the handle fits. I even bought it for her.

Pairing knives, two Shun Classics – The larger one doesn’t have a heal cap because it was a promo knife. I purchased them at the Kershaw / Shun warehouse sale.

Shun makes a good quality knife, they hold an edge well and feel good when in use. The D handle is stocked in most stores in the right-handed version, but they may be ordered in the left handed configuration.

Wusthof makes a 3 inch drop tip paring knife that is used as a loss leader in most kitchen stores. It can generally be purchased for under $20.00. A steal if you come across it.

Kyocera ceramic paring knife – I used to watch East meats West and Chef Ming Tsai, who always used a ceramic knife.

It was to dream about, super sharp, almost never dulls. I wasn’t impressed with this though, and now it lives on the surplus shelf.

Imperial something or another –  Cheap serrated paring knife.  It would have been trashed years ago but I didn’t want to go through another divorce.

Something about discretion being the better part of Valor. I think Francene likes it, because it was probably her first kitchen knife she bought.

I purchased a J.A. Henckels International set –  Big mistake. It was just a weak moment while in the big box superstore. I do use the bread slicer and kept the paring knife to experiment with.

This knife was reground to have a single bevel edge. I find it great for jobs like pealing apples. If you ever regrind for a single bevel remember to do it for right or left hand.

The rest are in the garage box of stuff I don’t want in the kitchen, but haven’t gotten rid of yet.

This post just became to long so it was split into part one and part two.

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Knives out of sight and less clutter

I have never liked having a knife block on the counter. Between hogging space to never having the correct slots I needed to come up with a solution. After a lot of internet searches and image looking,  I saw what would work for me. Then I built it.

Now before you go and say something like “I don’t have a woodworking shop” you should know that I don’t either. I make do with a cluttered garage and just move stuff around as needed. As can be seen, my workbench is an old card table and when I needed the varnish or polyurethane finish to dry I turned my sauna into a multi-tasker.

I didn’t have any plans, so I purchased the hardware, the drop down springs first . Then I mocked up a cardboard tray and started measuring front to back as well as drop till I know how to cut my plywood boards. Did a rough assemble and check everything for fit. I know most commercially built cabinets like mine are a standard size but I wanted to build the largest tray that would fit.

The knives are held in place with magnetic strips designed to hold knives against the wall, readily available on Amazon. At first I had a single magnet to hold the tray up but added a second one (now one at each end) for added safety. Quite scary when the shelf drops unexpectedly.

What I really like is that I can change knives as the need arises.   I built two more shelves and one is at the end of the counter and holds stuff plus a couple of knives I want handy but do not use on a weekly basis.

I felt so proud of myself I installed the third shelf under that clutter collector of a kitchen desk. This one is used to hold all those rechargeable devices, the tablets, phones etc.


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