Look you’re going to need an 8 inch Chef’s Knife if you fancy yourself a home cook, especially with Thanksgiving coming up. You don’t see the need to spend $200 on a knife but you want to spend a little bit to get something good, something that’s going to last.
I read that all you need are three knives for cooking at home: a chef’s knife, a pairing knife and a bread knife. You could probably have a few others – more if you are a more experienced/better cook, but those three are the three knives you’ll lean on the most. Everything else is just superfluous. And the chef’s knife you’ll lean on the most.
New York Magazine talks with Tom Mylon, butcher-in-cheif for Marlow & Sons Diner, who recommends the Forschner with rosewood handle ($44.95). “The blade is tall, thin, and tough, perfect for chopping onions and celery for Thanksgiving stuffing. The weight balance between the blade and the handle is nearly 50/50, which is ideal for carving up a turkey. And if properly maintained, the knife should last you a decade or more.”
His advice about the knife though? It’s not necessarily the knife you own but how you use and treat your knife that matters.
Part of proper maintenance is to buy a sharpening steel and use it often, drawing the blade lightly across the steel at a twenty-degree angle; use about ten strokes on each side, more if the edge is really beat-up. Remember that steels don’t actually sharpen; they realign the edge as it is knocked down with use. When your knife does get dull (probably every six months) you should take it to be sharpened professionally at a reputable housewares store like Broadway Panhandler. It will lengthen the edge and prolong the life of your knife. Most important, learn how to use your knife well. Buy a knife-skills DVD like Knife Skills Series Toolkit put out by the Culinary Institute of America ($25 at prochef.com), or take an inexpensive class, like the 90-minute “Knife Skills” seminar at the Brooklyn Kitchen ($25; 616 Lorimer St., nr. Skillman Ave., Williamsburg; 718-389-2982). Then practice your knifework until the idea of thinly slicing a bag of onions fills you with joy instead of dread.
Good advice for any foodie.