No electric sharpener is going to match a skilled expert, but this sharpener does a good job. It's so easy to use, you can get a sharp edge even if you don't really know what you're doing.
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While this isn't the most earthshaking gadget I've seen, I have to say these magnetic knife guards are a nice improvement over the slip-on plastic guards.
Knives are just as important behind the home bar as they are in the kitchen. Good knives, carefully kept honed and sharp, are crucial tools in making cocktails and other fine libations. Today we'll run down the necessities of bar cutlery.
As far as food resolutions go, I love the idea of simply eating more fresh, seasonal fruit. To encourage me through the monochromatic winter produce selection, I picked up this handy double-ended grapefruit knife ($5.95, crateandbarrel.com). It's a riff on the more typical grapefruit spoon, but easier (and arguably less dangerous) to use.
[Photograph: Randy Duchaine] If you're looking for an incredibly special holiday gift this year for the cook in your life, look no further than Brooklyn. Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn crafts his premium knives by hand and they are...
The cooks at America's Test Kitchen knew what their ideal slicing knife would have: an extra-long blade that could slice through large cuts of meat in one easy glide, enough sturdiness to ensure a straight cutting path, and a round tip that wouldn't get caught in the meat mid slice. They narrowed the field to nine models for testing and sliced through fish and multiple cuts of meat. In the end, the three knives jockeying for the top spot all had something in common that the poorer performers didn't. Watch this video for more about their top picks, or read the full comparison on America's Test Kitchen (free registration required).
At first glance, the shape of the classic paring knife seems to make sense. A great big curved chef's knife is for cutting, hacking, and chopping large things, so to cut, hack, and chop small things, I'd want to use a small version of a chef's knife, right? The thing is, I don't use a paring knife for cutting, hacking, and chopping. I use it for peeling, brunoise-ing, thin slicing, and generally performing the type of precision knife work that a large chef's knife is simply too thick and bulky for. There's a fundamental difference between the type of tasks performed by a chef's knife and a paring knife. With this in mind, I went shopping for a paring knife with a new set of criteria.
America's Test Kitchen tested six boning knives, ranging in price from $20 to $180. The top performer was perfectly balanced, with enough flexibility to move around tight joints—and it cost a fraction of the price of the other contenders. Watch the video here for information about the winner or read the full comparison on AmericasTestKitchen.com (free registration required).
Just like a good kitchen knife, for a good steak knife to make the cut, it's gotta be sharp, comfortable, well-balanced, and sturdy. But that's where the similarity ends. Steak knives differ from kitchen knives in two important ways. First, a steak knife must look good; you'll be using it at your table, after all. Second, a steak knife is used on a plate, not a cutting board; this means the world in selecting the proper edge for your knife. With those parameters in mind, let's explore our options.
One of my favorite knives is my heavy-duty, two-pound, full-tang, 8-inch-bladed behemoth of a cleaver that I got for $15 at a recently closed restaurant supply store in Boston's Chinatown. I use it nearly daily for taking apart chickens, hacking through animal bones, mincing beef or pork for hand-chopped burgers or dumplings, cleaving hearty vegetables, and trying to look really badass in the mirror (it's not so good at that particular function). But what if you don't have a $15 awesome-o cleaver in your arsenal already? What options are out there for you?
Just like the first step to fighting crime is learning how to put on a cape, the first step to perfect knife skills is learning how to hold a knife. There are two basic grips: the handle grip, and the blade grip. If you've only ever been using the handle grip, give the other one a try—you may find your cuts improving dramatically. There's not much more to say that the slideshow doesn't explain, so I'll depart from usual form and cut myself short.
Many people confuse honing with sharpening, but there is a distinct difference. We've already discussed using a water stone to sharpen a dull knife. When you sharpen a knife, you're actively removing material from the blade, creating a brand new razor-sharp beveled edge.
Personally, I find nothing more frustrating in the kitchen than a dull knife. Not only does it make prep work a chore and your finished product less attractive, it's also downright dangerous. A dull blade requires more pressure to cut into a food, and can easily slip off of a tough onion skin and into your finger. Ouch. Here's a slideshow on how to sharpen a knife with a sharpening stone, with recommendations on what stones to buy.
If you've suddenly found yourself with a new knife block with space to fill, consider this: J.A. Henckels' Fine Edge Pro Knives are almost a quarter the price of the classic collection. So what's the difference? The Fine Edge Pro Knives are made in a different way: They're stamped rather than forged, which is generally a much less expensive manufacturing technique. Here's the more important question: Does it matter?
I was curious about the Kapoosh universal, hold-all-your-knives-and-utensils block from the get-go. The pictures were unclear—something mysterious was clearly going on. But the concept lured me in, and the purchase proved my doubts to be all wrong.
Can you spot the difference between the two hanger steaks? They were both cooked to a perfect 130°F medium-rare in the same pan, both cut from the same piece of meat, and both sport a beautiful brown, crackly crust. Yet one of them is more tender than Otis Redding on a good day, while the other has more in common with a rubber band. What's the difference? It's all got to do with the angle at which it's sliced.
[Photographs: Amazon.com (chef's knife, bread knife)] Remember how I'd mentioned that my roommate's nice Wusthof knives weren't sticking around forever? Well the day finally came when they made their sad exit from my life. Clearly, this was a bit of a debacle. Being on a budget doesn't particularly allow for the kind of splurge that would be required to replace Wusthofs, but after being privy to wonderful knives, how could I ever revert to my old stock? Thankfully, Pure Komachi 2, a subsidiary of Shun, makes an impressive line of knives at knockout prices. With not a single knife topping $25, I was skeptical as to the quality of these blades, but the aficionados behind the store counter couldn't...
"Used regularly, it's a very inexpensive way to get $10 knives to perform almost like $80 ones." Slowly but surely, I've gone from being the girl with terrifyingly unsafe knife skills to being relatively nimble with a blade. But if there's one thing that still remains squarely outside my comfort zone, it's manual sharpening. As my current roommate is the fortunate owner of some enviable Wüsthof knives, I've yet to upgrade from my not-so-desirable (and since discontinued) Ikea set. Considering that the roommate (and her Wüsthofs) won't be around forever, I decided to put a knife sharpener to the test. With some TLC, could I get my crappy set to mimic the sharp competition? I quickly mustered up my old...
FXcuisine.com François-Xavier of FXcuisine.com travels to Sakai, Japan, and comes back with a beautiful photo essay detailing each of four steps that go into making exquisite knives. Most kitchen knives today are stamped out of large sheets of metal. They are never as sharp as those made in Sakai. Master Ebuchi has been forging knives for the past 40 years, but he still breaks one knife for each three he tries to make. This is delicate work. François-Xavier then takes us through the blade-sharpener's workshop before visiting the handle-maker and finally the engraver....
©iStockPhoto/lbrinck The boy I was seeing last year, a cook, passed on his knives to me before I started my first gig in a restaurant kitchen. They were his set from culinary school--sturdy and unfancy in their utilitarian black case. His nonchalance gave way to unfamiliar gravity as he ceremoniously bestowed them upon me. He demonstrated how to sharpen them, first with stone and then with steel, and looked concerned when I was catching on slowly, if at all. Knives are serious business—any cook knows that. On my first day in the kitchen, the cooks asked to see my knives. "They're hand-me-downs from a friend," I explained. But the chefs proved far more interested in showing off their own. They...