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Basic Knife Skills: Cutting Smartly & Safely

Though there's a gadget for practically every need, a good chef knows that a few high-quality, well-chosen knives can accomplish a fancy electronic device's task–and do it more simply–every time. lirics i want money

Three things can mystify home cooks about knives: which one to use, when to use it and how to use it the right way. Truth is, from choosing them to using them, knife skills aren't something you've either got or not; they're learned and perfected over time, thanks to sound advice and mindful practice.

Stocking your Block

Knives come in all shapes and sizes and are tailored to dozens of tasks. So before buying a knife, evaluating your cooking style will help you save money by investing only in what you need. Don't eat a ton of fish? Forego a filet knife. Your family dislikes hard-to-cut winter squash or other root vegetables and you buy pre-cut chicken and beef too? Chances are you don't need a cleaver.

Here are some good suggestions to get you started:

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  • A chef's knife (also known as a French knife) is the most popular, general-purpose knife. Its broad, tapered shape is perfect for many tasks because the blade is large and easily “rocked” over ingredients. It's very good for slicing boneless meat, too. Available in six-, eight-, 10- and 12-inch lengths, consider your hand size and forearm strength when selecting one. Generally used for lengthy chopping, you want something that is not too heavy and won't tire you out, but that doesn't feel flimsy either.
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  • A bread knife has a thin blade and a serrated edge, making it perfect for cutting through crusts. The scalloped or serrated edge is also good for cutting cakes or other large baked goods in half. If you don't have a dedicated tomato knife, a bread knife's serrated blade can do the trick in a pinch...though if you eat a lot of fresh tomatoes, a good tomato knife makes it a breeze to slice their delicate flesh into even slabs or paper-thin pieces.
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  • A slicing knife is almost exclusively used for meat. Some have oval or scalloped pockets hollowed out on the sides, known as Granton edges. This particular edge creates a little air between the blade and what you're cutting, allowing the knife to slide easily through the meat (or even soft cheeses like mozzarella). This type of knife produces smooth, even slices that don't stick to the blade.
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  • Short-bladed paring knives make easy work of delicate jobs like peeling, coring, trimming and seeding produce. Held at an angle in your dominant hand, the thin blade is placed just beneath the skin you want to remove as you turn the produce away from you and the knife toward you. Even moderately busy home kitchens should have more than one of these.

From synthetic handle to wooden, ergonomically shaped to smooth, high-carbon stainless steel blades or ceramic, there's a knife type for everyone. The best buying advice? Get what you can afford, and don't let them fall dull because what they say really is true: your dullest is your most dangerous knife. This is because a sharp knife is much easier to use and guide. A dull knife is more likely to slip, causing potential accidents.

Usage Tips and Tricks

Ever nicked a nail or otherwise sliced and diced yourself while prepping? Even experienced chefs make mistakes, but they curtail their frequency by following smart steps that lead to safety, efficacy, and a long life for their knives:
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  • It's not how fast you move your knife but what you do with it. Always hold what you're cutting with your knuckles facing up and your fingertips curled under. Hold your knife with your thumb and index finger on either side of the blade closest to you. It will feel strange at first, but this position gives you ultimate control.
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  • When chopping, concentrate on uniformity, not speed, and try not to raise your blade above your first knuckle.
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  • Placing the palm of your alternate hand at the top of your chef's knife while chopping keeps the blade on the board, and helps you “rough chop” a little faster.
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  • Wash knives by hand. The blades can get nicked in the dishwasher. Plus, if your knives have wooden handles, a dishwasher's hot water and heat will dry it out.
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  • Knife blocks aren't the only way to store your equipment. If you can spare the space, in-drawer storage options keep knives out of sight. Placing knives in plastic sheaths protects the blade.
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  • For extra safety when cutting and chopping, place a dampened towel beneath your cutting board. The friction between the towel and board will secure it to the counter and keep it from slipping or rocking.