Hello and welcome! The other day a reader reached out with questions about knives, and it reminded me that I haven’t yet done a post focused on this essential piece of kitchen equipment. So today, we are taking a look at cutlery. Read on to learn about The Knives You Should Have in Your Kitchen.
If you only have one knife, it should be a chef’s knife. Chef’s knives are either 8 or 10 inches long. They are perfect for chopping, dicing, and slicing. I spent many years with only a chef’s knife in my kitchen and I managed just fine. As long as it’s a quality knife, and is always kept clean and sharp, it’s possible for it to be the only knife in regular use. A sharp chef’s knife should be able to slice a tomato with ease, as well as making easy work of harder things like beets, potatoes and squash.
The Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch Chef’s Knife is a highly rated knife, for a reasonable price. It holds a sharp edge through all the toughest cutting tasks. Its handle is comfortable, with a non-slip grip, and it is both hygienic and dishwasher safe.
I have a set of Japanese knives from Enso. I use the 8-inch chef’s knife for nearly all of my cutting tasks. Enso knives are on the pricey side. But if you’re in the market to invest in knives, I highly recommend Enso. They hold a sharp edge for what seems like ages. While they are heavier than a plastic-handled chef’s knife, they are well-balanced and a bit lighter than other high-priced knives I have had in the past.
Utility and Petty Knives
The other knife in regular use in my kitchen is my Enso petty knife. Petty knives and utility knives are both mid-sized prep knives. The petty knife, basically being the Japanese version of the utility knife.
Petty and utility knives are most commonly found with a 5 or 6-inch blade. The shape of the blade mimics the chef’s knife. And this where the difference between the petty knife and the utility knife comes in: the petty knife is triangular in shape, with a straight edge; whereas the utility knife is longer, more narrow and has a slight curve to its edge. Basically, if a chef’s knife and a paring knife had a baby, it would be a utility or petty knife.
Petty and utility knives are perfect for precision cutting – I love this knife for slicing small tomatoes, chicken meat off of the bone, quartering mushrooms, and mincing shallots. When you need the precision of a paring knife and the larger blade coverage of a chef’s knife, reach for a utility or petty knife.
You can get by without a serrated knife in your collection, but having one does make slicing a crusty loaf of bread a hell of a lot easier. I also like it for slicing sandwiches in half so I don’t squish out all the sandwich fixin’s with the downward pressure of cutting it with a chef’s knife. The sawing action of a serrated knife keeps the insides of stuffed things where they belong, inside. If you’re a baker, you know that serrated knives are best for slicing cake. Below is an Enso Serrated Knife similar to the one I have.
When it comes to serrated knives, the number of serrations makes a big difference in the knives’ ability to cleanly cut through bread, sandwiches or tomatoes without shredding the thing you’re cutting. Look for fewer serrations, or points. Speaking of the points, a lot of serrated knifes have rounded tips, look for pointed tips. Also important are the depth of the gullies in between the blade points, you want deep gullies. The Mercer Serrated Knife is a quality serrated knife at a good price.
Meat Slicing Knives
We do a lot of outdoor cooking like smoking and barbecuing so we find it handy to have a set of meat-slicing knives that are durable, lightweight and dishwasher safe (laying flat in the top rack, of course). Our favorite brand for this type of knife is Dexter-Russel. We have been using these knifes to carve roasts and slice steaks from the bone for a couple years and have never yet had to sharpen them. We use a honing rod to hone the blade from time to time, but otherwise, they hold their sharpness incredibly well. Dexter 12-inch Roast Slicer and the Dexter-Russel Boning Knife are the two we use the most.
I saved the paring knife for last because you can get away without one, especially if you have a utility or petty knife. I think the only thing I really use mine for is coring tomatoes. But, they’re handy for peeling an apple or cutting citrus segments. My Enso knife set came with one, but otherwise I am not sure I would think to buy one because my petty knife really does a great job on precision cuts. That said, you can find an affordable one in the Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Straight Paring Knife.
Knives aside, one of the most-used tools in my kitchen are the multi-purpose kitchen shears. I have two pairs. The most comfortable of my two pairs are the Shun Multi Purpose Shears. These shears are so durable and they’re easy to clean. The two sides come apart and reattach easily, without ever coming apart as I am cutting. The grip is comfortable and roomy. A good pair of kitchen shears makes easy work of taking apart a whole chicken, cutting through lobster tails, even trimming herbs and slicing bananas.
I hope you found this guide to The Knives You Should Have in Your Kitchen helpful. You really don’t need a huge knife set with a bunch of different kinds of knives. Stick to the basics and you can have super-functional, quality prep equipment without spending hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars. Just remember: Chef’s Knife, Petty or Utility Knife, Serrated Knife and Kitchen Shears. Is there any piece of kitchen equipment you’d like to know more about? Send me an email from my Say Hello page to let me know! Take care and be well, everyone! xo Kelly