It doesn’t matter if you are a professional chef or a part time home cook, knives are irreplaceable and everyone respects them. But few among us know how to keep them in good shape or how to use them safely.
Here four simple but necessary rules for knife safety:
*First of all, buy a good knife. Those sold at dollar stores are worth every penny — so are good ones!
*Secondly, a dull knife is much more dangerous than one with a razor’s edge.
*Thirdly, keep your fingers tucked out of the way when slicing or chopping. I know, it’s different and a bit uncomfortable, but watch a few quality cooking shows and follow what the professionals do with their fingers and knuckles.
*And last, but not least, NEVER reach for a dropped or falling knife. Get out of the way and pick it up after it comes to rest.
Keeping your valuable knives sharp isn’t really that difficult. The easiest method is to purchase one of the many electrical counter-top knife sharpeners. But they will grind down a knife if used too frequently.
I preferred using a two-sided oiled whetstone for periodic sharpening instead of a grinding wheel, as I had no interest in prematurely replacing expensive knives or altering their shape. But for the casual cook using mid-priced cutlery, a powered grinder is fine.
Everyone has seen celebrity chefs briskly drawing large knives up and down a long, spiked rod. That’s just one method of keeping a finer edge for thinly carving meats after extended use. But to tell the truth, a really good knife that is properly sharpened will rarely suffer fine-edge failure. Using a “steel” is mostly for show — and it is impressive.
During one holiday meal I was carving a Baron of Beef at a buffet line when a customer asked for slices so thin she could read a newspaper through them.
With a flourish of the carving blade over the steel, I made a big show of running the thin blade up and down, all the while carrying a casual conversation about the weather. Eventually I shaved meat off that roast that was so thin you could almost see through it. The truth be known, I could have accomplished that feat without showing off, but being visible and impressive is part of cooking with a flair — at least for a chef. So, don’t be afraid to showcase your new (and perfectly safe) knife skills to your friends and neighbors; they too, will be impressed.