Culinary Cutlery: Chopping Your Way to Better Meals

Chopping Knife Not only do knives of all shapes and sizes play an important role in the dining process, they are also integral to the preparation of virtually any dish. Educating yourself about the knives most commonly used by...

Chopping Knife
Chopping Knife

Not only do knives of all shapes and sizes play an important role in the dining process, they are also integral to the preparation of virtually any dish. Educating yourself about the knives most commonly used by chefs is an essential step in learning your way around the kitchen.

Paring Knives

A reliable set of paring knives is a must-have cooking aid for chefs who frequently deal with produce. These knives, which are often packaged with their own sheaths, are used for peeling the skin off of fruits and vegetables. Paring knives are extremely sharp, so keep some bandages handy and expect to acquire a few cuts while learning how to use them. With enough practice, however, peeling produce with paring knives will become second nature. Your produce will be peeled so clean and evenly, you’ll wonder how you ever made do with run-of-the-mill fruit and veggie peelers.

Boning Knives

Chefs who work with fresh fish always keep a few boning knives within reach. As the name suggests, these narrow-bladed knives are designed to remove the bones from fish—a key step in the preparation of seafood. Chefs who are pressed for time can’t go wrong with a single-cut boning knife, which can remove all of a fish’s bones in one powerful cutting motion. While boning knives are primarily used on fish, some chefs use them for removing bones from chicken, turkey and other poultry.

Cleavers

A staple of any butcher shop, cleavers are used to chop large portions of raw meat into manageable serving sizes. If tenderloins and roasts are among your favorite entrees to prepare, don’t hesitate to add a quality cleaver to your culinary toolbox. Cleavers can also come in handy when chopping up sizable seafood entrees, such as swordfish and salmon. Because of the high bacteria content found in most raw meat, take extra care when cleaning your cleavers.

Kitchen Shears

Shaped like scissors but considerably sharper, kitchen shears come in several varieties. For meat preparation, there are poultry, beef and seafood shears, which are specially designed to cut through each type of meat with ease. However, you’ll still need a cleaver to deal with particularly thick chunks of meat. Additionally, when preparing a salad, a good pair of vegetable shears will enable you to chop up a wide range of produce in a timely manner.

Bread Knives

Piping-hot bread makes a tasty complement to any meal, particularly if it’s sliced nice and evenly. Unfortunately, the stiff crust that surrounds fresh-baked bread makes the food difficult to penetrate. This is why no chef’s kitchen should be without a long, sharp bread knife. With this handy piece of cutlery, you’ll be able to make short work of even the most stubborn bread crust.

Chefs with a steady stock of bakeware and cutlery at their disposal can whip up a mouthwatering array of tasty dishes. No matter what type of entrée you’d like to prepare, chances are you’ll have a hard time doing it without a working knowledge of kitchen knives.