AndyTalk: Errant Knifery
See also: AndyTalk: The Five Most Common Kitchen Mistakes, Starting with Gray Meat
I have a drawer at AndyFood labeled "shot glasses."' That's where I keep all of the more esoteric knives. More to the point, that's where I keep those knives away from the unknowing. I watch people use a paring knife for everything from to peeling an apple and to butchering a chicken to dicing vegetables for stir-fry. You can do all of that with one knife, but ideally not a paring knife.
It's ironic that most of the paring-knife-fanatics know they're using the wrong knife. They're afraid of big knives - which is actually a good instinct. But, using the wrong knife is risky. Here's a short list of the wrong knives:
- A knife that's so big it hides the food you're cutting,
- Any knife that's not at least an inch or two longer than the width of the food you're slicing (Turkeys and huge cuts of meat excepted),
- A dull knife,
- A knife in bad repair (i.e., the rivets are loose), and
- A knife that looks cool, but that you have no idea what it's designed to do.
The right knife is
- Sharp. Sharp knives easily glide into the food you're cutting. Dull knives require a lot of pressure to do the job. As you struggle you risk being cut.
- Comfortable in your hand. If you're five feet tall a 7-inch chef's knife is probably just your size. If you're over six feet tall you might enjoy a 10-inch knife. A chef's knife is an extension of your arm - and if you have short arms a shorter knife is in order. For most people an 8 or 9-inch knife is perfect.