Having at least one quality chef’s knife is essential for any home cook. And once we have one, let’s remember and practice these important safety tips.
Never Put It Down.
Okay, sure we occasionally have to put it down to answer the door or stir a pot and the knife will be left [as in these paintings by Artists Nancy Gail Ring and Patrick O’Driscoll]. In these instances we leave the knife on the cutting board where we’re working and return to it promptly. If there are children in the home, push the board and knife back from the edge of the counter and let’s teach them to respect our working area.
A quality knife is a terrific tool, but it can be a risk if left on the counter or dropped into soapy water. I like to give my kitchen knives the O.H.I.O. treatment: Only Handle It Once. I hold onto it for chopping, julienning, dicing, mincing and crushing, and when I’m finished I clean, dry and store it immediately. It’s a good habit. I encourage you to make it yours too.
Another tip that I find really helpful with utilizing my kitchen knife is something I learned from chef Alton Brown. Here’s his one short comment that really stayed with me as I mulled over the implied riddle, and then I understood it!
“Any knife works best when going in two directions at once.” ~ Alton Brown
See what I mean? Seems like a riddle, doesn’t it? That is until you hold this sentence in mind while using your kitchen knife to break down a large butternut squash or whole roast into cubes for example. Applying firm pressure while moving both down and forward, or down and backward, is an excellent way to use a knife. It’s utilizing force and momentum to the best advantage. If you don’t already think about this as you use your knife, give it some attention and you’ll see why Alton’s tip is a good one.
Also, here’s a Good Eats one minute video with Alton Brown on why Happiness Is A Sharp Knife, as well as a pdf from chef Jamie Oliver on knife safety. This post is my celebration of owning and caring for at least one excellent kitchen knife. Spend for the highest quality you can afford because a well-crafted knife is an excellent investment. Chef’s knives of quality that are well cared for become heirlooms. And taking care of my well-appreciated knife helps me spend joyful time in my kitchen peacefully.