Knives You Should Always Have In Your Drawers

July 3, 2010

I’ve always been a fan of decent cutlery. I’ve also worked in kitchens where the access to decent knives have been too far and between and left you with substandard product and some really nasty cuts. What I’m submitting today are decent knives with decent prices that anyone can acquire either online or at restaurant supply stores or other places like Sur La Table. I would suggest online or your local restaurant supply than specialty stores which charge a significant upcharge. I will also include some entry level knives that you can buy but buyer beware. The prices equals longevity, balance and sharpness.

I have about two thousand dollars worth of knives and other items in my bag at any given time. There are certain knives I use for certain tasks and there are knives I use that just feel good in my hand. Each person is different. Balance and handle weight is very important to people who either like light handles or something with a little base weight that can give them more comfort. Each brand offers different options.

I really like Global knives. I love their sleek design. Their edge is very sharp and I like the heavy handle that some can be put off by but they are very balanced, especially the larger knives and are affordable. A decent chef knife is about seventy dollars but will last you for years and you know what? They look hot!

My first collection and I love them!

My everyday knife I use for chopping, slicing, julienning or whatever I need to do, I use a ten inch MAC Knife. Endorsed by Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, they have a lifetime guarantee if you use their own shapeners which I didn’t do. I know how to keep an edge but the wood handle, the balance is just something that grew on me the minute I was given this glorious piece of cutlery. I think this is the best knife on the market for the price. A twelve inch chef knife is about a hundred dollars.

My lil' Baby

This is what I use every day at work

Nothing butchers like a good scimitar knife. Shaped like an Arabian saber, it is intimidating yet so damn useful! The ducktail end of the knife makes it perfect for slicing large pieces of your favorite animal and is designed for butchering anything from pork chops to whole strip loins. I’ve had the same fifteen dollar scimitar that I bought in North Beach twenty years ago and it is sharp as….heck?

This can do wonders

This looks almost exactly like the one in my knife bag!

Anyone can buy a sharpening steel. You can go to your local grocery store and buy some hunk of steel to sharpen your knife but will it get rid of the burrs and other nasty things that make your knife dull? You could go out and get a whetstone but who’s going to teach you how to use it? What I suggest is a “diamond steel.” It is a basic sharpening steel that is coated with diamond dust or crystals. It adds a more coarse application to the sharpening steel that will help rid your favorite knife of it’s blemishes. Imagine using this like you would use a facial cleanser with apricot pits to exfoliate your skin. Same applies with diamond steels and they are very easily acquired at your local knife shop, specialty stores or restaurant supply store.

Wustoff Diamond Steel

I don’t think any household or knife bag should ever be without a pairing knife. They are the most utilized knives in my bag. Whether it is used for peeling peaches, fine mincing shallots or turning potatoes, they are worth their weight in gold. You can find them anywhere and even the most inexpensive five dollar pairing knife will make your life much easier when you are met with tasks that are small in stature.

This is an example of a great pairing knife.

People think that when you are filleting fish any knife will do. Wrong! You can make skinning, filleting and portioning a great piece of fish either a dream come true or a sloppy nightmare awaiting and it all comes down to the knife. I have in my bag a great Wustoff fish filleting knife. Slim and sleek, about twelve inches long and is sharp as hell. It will remove a skin without effort and will perform surgeon like slices on any fish of choice. I highly recommend this for any budding cook or chef.

This Wustoff is serious business!

Boning knives are a fickled bunch. You have the forged or non-forged types which basically means flexible blade vs. inflexible blade. I prefer the non-forged boning knives because I work with many different types of proteins and I find these flexible knives work best with poultry which I use a lot. Wustoff again has a great selection of forged and non-forged boning knives for about fifty bucks.

A very decent boning knife

There are discount knives which you can find in your local Safeway or Krogers that go by the name OXO brand. If you are in the dire need for a knife and don’t care about balance, price or edge longevity, these type knives will suit you just fine in the short term. They will not hold an edge for very long and can be unbalanced but they will suffice for short term cooks.

OXO 8 inch chef knife

One of my first entry level knives was from a company called Dexter-Russel. They are very prolific in the restaurant industry, I have them still in my kitchen for my cooks and they are cheap, reliable and can hold an edge. You can get a ten inch chef knife for under twenty dollars. Specialty shops and restaurant supply store will ALWAYS carry the Dexter-Russel brand and they have a lot of different knives.

A selection of Dexter-Russel knives

Well, I hope I gave you a little insight on what cooks and chefs use to get their work accomplished. By no means is this complete list of knives available. Hell, I haven’t even gone into high end Japanese knives but that’s another chapter entirely. This small list should help the budding cook decide on what options they have.

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