Catalyst Cooks

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Technique of the Week (be the Superhero of your Kitchen) – Knife Skills January 18, 2012

This is a new feature of the blog, “Technique of the Week”.  It’s meant to be a little something that can change your life in your kitchen, big time.  The not-so-secret secrets that I’ve found very, very helpful in my cooking.

If you like to cook from scratch, Knife Skills and some practice have the potential to save you oodles of time.  Learning how to hold a Chef’s knife (above left) and how to use it are the best things I’ve learned in the past year.  If you watch cooking shows, it’s the first thing they teach new recruits and the first thing they test in competitive cooking.

Get a Grip 

The smallest- and hardest and most impactful- adjustment is to start holding your chef’s knife correctly, and making the commitment to practicing until it feels comfortable.

   If you do what I used to do, you put your index finger on top of the blade.

It was tricky to unlearn that, but if you have a good chef’s knife, there is a place to rest your finger and thumb (see the photo at right) – and firmly grip the blade.

Once you’ve got the right grip, you will have better control over your knife cuts.

My favorite easy practice is to cut celery- it lays flat on the cutting board so I can practice my rocking motion without having to raise my hand too high or worry about bits rolling off my cutting board.

Use a rocking motion and, to the extent you can, leave the tip of the knife resting on the board at all times.  Your hand should be moving steadily, firmly, and easily.

It’s best if your knife is sharp.  You can tell if it’s sharp by cutting a piece of newspaper in the air.  If the blade easily slices through the paper, the knife is sharp.  If it doesn’t, it’s dull, and you should sharpen it.

You’ll know you’re successfully holding a knife if you get a great callous like this:

Practice Practice Practice…  you’ll get faster and more accurate, and your meal prep will go so much faster than it does today.

Happy Knife Holding… your first Technique of the Week!




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