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knife noob has questions...

m
montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 06:07 PM

The two knives i currently use for basically all my kitchen tasks are mostly dead. One (and I'm not IDing what it actually is, because it's embarassing) is just about to fall apart and the other one, a Henckels chef's knife, is too heavy for me to use properly.

If you could have 3 knives, max, in your kitchen, what would they be (style, not brand)?

I am interested in Japanese knives and am leaning towards a santoku rather than another chef's knife. Possible bad idea?

Am also leaning towards a nikiri and a boning knife. Does 'boning knife', with reference to Japanese knives, mean everything or just fish (see, I know nothing)? I'd like a knife I can bone out pork and beef with as well as fillet fish. I'd also like to be able to very finely chop herbs and certain vegetables. And I need knives that can do many tasks, not super specialized ones.

Thoughts? Could I get away with 2, not 3? I am interested in general thoughts as well as specific recommendations. Thanks. :)

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  1. twyst RE: montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 06:14 PM

    Chefs knife (whatever style you choose)
    Paring Knife
    Slicing knife (9-10 inches or so)

    Is what I would keep if I could only keep three knives

    5 Replies
    1. re: twyst
      pdxgastro RE: twyst Dec 7, 2011 09:30 PM

      What the hell is a 'slicing' knife? All knives slice or why would you have them?

      1. re: pdxgastro
        d
        Dave5440 RE: pdxgastro Dec 7, 2011 09:38 PM

        Commonly called a carving knife

        1. re: pdxgastro
          cowboyardee RE: pdxgastro Dec 7, 2011 09:41 PM

          Google may yield a world of information for you.

          Alternately, you can read further down this very thread where it has already been explained.

          1. re: pdxgastro
            Chemicalkinetics RE: pdxgastro Dec 7, 2011 09:44 PM

            What the hell is a Chef's knife or a Cook's knife? Aren't all knives used by a chef or a cook?

            :P

            (Just teasing the situation, don't take it personally. A lot of knife names are not very descriptive, like butcher knife or utility knife or....)

          2. re: twyst
            m
            mpalmer6c RE: twyst Dec 8, 2011 01:34 AM

            I have an 8-inch chef's knife, a moderately price Chicago
            Cutlery, that's in fine shape after 30 years. Just about the only
            knives I use are a German steak knife that's partly serrated,
            and a 5-inch utility knife. Unless you spend a lot of
            timef illeting fish, I don't know what use you would
            have for a boning knife.

          3. cowboyardee RE: montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 06:53 PM

            Me personally -
            1- Gyuto (Japanese chefs knife - 240 mm long)
            2- Paring knife
            3- Honesuki (Japanese boning knife, especially geared toward chicken rather than fish)

            Standard advice
            1 Chefs knife/gyuto/santoku/Chinese cleaver/nakiri (any of those options can basically be used as a primary knife)
            2 Paring knife
            3 Bread knife (personally I don't cut all that much bread, and I find a longer straighter chef knife like a gyuto is able to deal with bread just fine when it's kept nice and sharp)

            A person can get away with 2 knives just fine if they don't do many specialized techniques. You can use a chefs knife to filet fish (as long as we're not talking big fish) or break down chicken. If you really bone out a lot of pork and beef, a boning knife may be more appropriate for you. The Japanese use the hankotsu and honesuki for boning out meat - they are sturdy, stiff, fairly narrow knives that tend to be quite assymetrical, but not single beveled (in other words, it's still possible to use one if you're left handed). Or of course a Western boning knife is an option.

            Any two knives are going to have some areas of deficiency, so the important thing is whether those areas are the kinds of things that you find yourself doing. As for a nakiri and a boning knife as a combo:
            -you won't have any especially good slicer for roasts and large boneless cuts of meat and such
            -you won't have a knife that's good at peeling or tournes or microsurgical little cuts
            -you won't have a knife that's good for bread
            -you won't have a knife that's good for cutting through bones larger than a chicken's
            -finally you won't have an especially great knife for filleting fish, though you can get the job done anyway.

            Do any of those things sound like problems for the way you cook? The upside is that the boning knife can function as a sort of utility knife as well.

            Finally my standard advice - sharpening is more important than which knives you have. Make sure you have a strategy in mind to keep your knives sharp. Japanese knives in particular reward one's sharpening efforts but don't work as well with some of the easier sharpening solutions.

            1. Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 07:08 PM

              Three knives to take care of all possible tasks or three knives to take care of most tasks?

              To take care of all possible tasks. I would keep
              a) a meat cleaver
              b) a medium blade Chinese cleaver
              c) a paring knife

              To take care of most tasks in my kitchens:
              i) a thin blade Chinese cleaver/nakiri
              ii) a paring knife
              iii) a boning knife

              As for your leaning toward a santoku, it is a good choice, but before you make that choice notes that a typical Japanese Chef's knife (aka gyuto) is thinner and lighter than a German Chef's knife. So if you want a Santoku because of its shape, then go ahead and get it. If you want to get a Santoku because you had bad experience with the heavy weight German Chef's knife, then you may find what you like in the Japanese gyuto (Japanese Chef's knife).

              Nakiri is a very good knife. In general, it has a much flatter knife profile than gyuto or santoku, so it is very good for cutting up vegetables. As for your question about boning knife... it is a bit tougher to answer. There is a traditional Japanese boning knife known as Deba. Deba is really specialized for fish and possible poultry. There is another Japanese knife called the Honesuki which is much better for poultry. Here are the two images.

              Deba:

              http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/...
              Honesuki:

              http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/...

              Yes, you can get away with 2 or 3 knives. I think instead of getting all of these Japanese knives in one shot. Maybe you should get a gyuto or santoku first to see what you like and dislike before getting your second and third knives.

              cowboyardee's suggestions are excellent especially about knife sharpening.

              I have one more suggestion that is focus your energy and expense on your main knife. Let's say you only want to $150. There is no reason why you have to buy all three knives from the same brand or the same grade. It is perfectly fine to buy a $140 gyuto/santoku, a $10 paring. You should not have to spend too much for knives which you may not use often.

              1. m
                montrealeater RE: montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 08:11 PM

                This is all good info. I have some follow-up questions...if you don't mind:

                1. slicing knife - what tasks does this do?
                2. santoku vs gyoto - what is the main difference(s)?
                3. Chinese cleaver vs nikiri - again, main difference? I've seen Chinese cleavers being used well (i.e. by people with advanced knife skills) to do almost anything - can a nikiri do the same things? I assume based on what cowboyardee says, that they can't handle bones bigger than chicken? Does that mean a Chinese cleaver is a better all around than a nikiri?
                4. Of the list of possible problems with my original possible choices, these apply:

                "-you won't have a knife that's good for cutting through bones larger than a chicken's
                -finally you won't have an especially great knife for filleting fish, though you can get the job done anyway."

                Right now I am thinking santoku vs gyuto (I am not totally sure of the difference in performance here), paring, and a third, as yet unchosen knife. Leaning towards Chinese cleaver. Or boning/honesuki. Maybe I should just go for 4 knives and make sure 1 or 2 of them are really high quality?

                Btw, thank you for such detailed advice. It's exactly what I need. I spent a lot on that Henckels knife because I knew nothing about knives and thought expensive = good, and it really doesn't work for me, it just feels clunky and heavy, even to my untrained hand.

                Edit: re: sharpening - I have read a number of knife threads here and plan to have the knives professionally sharpened.

                3 Replies
                1. re: montrealeater
                  cowboyardee RE: montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 08:47 PM

                  1 it's mainly for cutting slices of boneless meat. The extra length is useful for an efficient slicing motion. A Japanese slicer, called a sujihiki, has a heel and can be used as an all-around type knife, but this requires a little extra practice.

                  2 A gyuto is longer. It is better for slicing, a little bet at removing silverskin and other jobs that involve piercing, and more efficient for cutting large items or a large amount of items at the same time. A santoku is nimble and easier to learn to control. It's also better on a small cutting board or a very tight workspace.

                  3 Chinese cleaver is a good deal bigger and usually longer. It is better at slicing and cutting meat. It is also better at scooping up foods from a cutting board. It varies more than the nakiri in terms of weight and thickness (some Chinese cleavers are for rough work but most aren't; no nakiris are made for rough work AFAIK). A nakiri is more nimble and easier to adjust to. It's edge is also usually perfectly straight whereas a CC's edge is usually just a bit curved, so the nakiri is a little better at straight up and down chopping.

                  4. If you need to chop through large bones, you only real options are a Western meat cleaver, a thick and heavy Chinese cleaver (as opposed to the normal thin, delicate kind), a hatchet, or a saw. None of these options are much good for normal kitchen cutting where bones aren't involved.

                  As for filleting fish, it depends on what kind of fish you fillet. I use a thin gyuto to filet fish, but I don't break down especially big fish. A nakiri is less suited to the job, though it can make do. Some people who love Japanese knives still rely on a flexible Western fillet knife for fish, but that's because it's the technique they learned and there's no real equivalent among Japanese knives.

                  Chinese cleaver is a really great knife to have, but it covers a lot of the same ground as a santoku or a gyuto if you're just putting together your first few knives.

                  1. re: montrealeater
                    d
                    Dave5440 RE: montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 08:51 PM

                    Chinese cleaver vs nikiri - again, main difference? I've seen Chinese cleavers being used well (i.e. by people with advanced knife skills) to do almost anything - can a nikiri do the same things? I assume based on what cowboyardee says, that they can't handle bones bigger than chicken? Does that mean a Chinese cleaver is a better all around than a nikiri?
                    Niether is meant to cut bone.

                    1. re: montrealeater
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 09:00 PM

                      1) A slicing knife is for slicing especially large objects. Say a large roast beef.
                      2) A santoku is shorter and lighter. Often, but not always, a santoku has relatively flat edge. Its tip forms much closer to the edge, whereas a gyuto’s edge is form between the knife spine and the edge. A German Chef’s knife tip is usually closer to the knife spine. Santoku is not as good for “rock chopping” as the other two.
                      3) A Chinese cleaver is much taller (or wider) and can handle higher volume of foods than a nakiri. On the other hand, a nakiri is easier to handle and give you slightly better control. Most nakiri cannot handle thick bone because they are usually not very thick blade, but if you find a nakiri made with thick blade and not very hard steel, then I don’t see why it cannot cut bones. There are more than one kind of Chinese cleavers. There are the thin ones which are thinner than most nakiri, and there are very thick ones.
                      http://www.chanchikee.com/ChineseKniv...
                      4) Your number 4 read more like a statement than a question, so I don’t know what to answer

                      “Maybe I should just go for 4 knives and make sure 1 or 2 of them are really high quality?”
                      Good idea. I would make sure your main knife (santoku or gyuto or whatever) is of high quality. The rest will fall into places.

                    2. g
                      GH1618 RE: montrealeater Dec 7, 2011 09:12 PM

                      I'm not a novice, but neither am I a knife wonk. I like good tools, and want them to last, but they don't have to be the high-end, which I do not consider to be good value for my needs.

                      Michael Ruhlman (The Elements of Cooking) writes that you only need two knives: a chef's knife and a paring knife. The chef's knife need not be a heavy forged blade — mine is a lightweight 8" stainless steel knife with a wooden handle. It feels good in my hand and holds its edge under the light use I give it, which are the main things. The parer, to limit yourself to only one, must be the right size and shape to do everything you want, and be of sufficient quality to stay sharp. I don't get by with only one and have three. My third knife would be a Chinese or Japanese style vegetable knife. I have a Chinese knife I've used for 35 years, and will probable use forever unless it breaks, even though it's not a very good knife. You don't really need a vegetable knife — you can use your chef's knife as some people prefer. I mostly use my vegetable knife and use my chef's knife rarely. If you cut up whole chickens often, you might prefer a stiff boning knife for your third knife. An ideal knife for fish is a little different, but you might find one which is a good compromise. I got by many years with no boning knife at all.

                      I don't see the point in setting an arbitrary limit. If you start with the object of getting a few good knives which will be the most useful and which will hold up over time, then that's sensible, in my opinion, and preferable to loading up with every conceivable knife you think you might need. But then if you take up oyster shucking, you're going to want an oyster knife. Nothing wrong with that.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: GH1618
                        Chemicalkinetics RE: GH1618 Dec 7, 2011 09:22 PM

                        "I mostly use my vegetable knife and use my chef's knife rarely"

                        Really? I thought you use your Chinese cleaver and Japanese nakiri (vegetable knife) as your backup, but now it sounds like you use your Chef's knife as your backup.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          g
                          GH1618 RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 7, 2011 09:33 PM

                          I don't have an actual Japanese nakiri. My cheap Chinese vegetable knife, approximating the shape of a nakiri, was my only vegetable knife for many years. Then I found the light cleaver (apparently Japanese made) which has mostly replaced the earlier knife. I like it it better because of the depth, the weight, and the better quality blade. I have and use both, but if I have to limit myself to just three knives, the old one goes, and the light cleaver is my third knife. The chef's knife is not a backup — it's what I use on meat.

                          1. re: GH1618
                            Chemicalkinetics RE: GH1618 Dec 7, 2011 09:34 PM

                            GH,

                            Oh yes, you did tell me this before. Sorry, I have bad memory. You may find yourself telling me this again in the future. :)

                      2. j
                        jkling17 RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 04:20 AM

                        It would be easier to recommend specific knives, if you let us know a bit more about how you feel about certain things. What handle style are you ok with? Japanese handle, western handle? Would you prefer stainless or high carbon. What type of grip do you like? Pinch grip? Handle grip?

                        1. Santoku.
                        2. Nikiri (I do a lot of veggie prep). I only just ordered this as I really do need it. Every day I am cuttring and slicing veggies and this will be quite useful. This will be my first super blue steel knife. Once I put it through it's paces, I'll post a review. It's the Dojo Nakiri from cktg.
                        3. Cleaver (for heavy duty work that I want to spare my better knives from - winter squashes, butterflying whole chicken, anything with bones, etc. This one is stainless, inexpensive and solid - and rebeveled from scratch so it's quite sharp. I find that it has been very helpful to own this, and once I got around to really sharpening it, it has become an essential. Given how you talk about your chef's knife perhaps this one would be too heavy for your liking but you can always get a super sharp light cleaver.

                        You COULD use that Henckles of yours to fill in as a deba, etc - for your less delicate work. Just get it sharpened up and it should take on a whole new life for you. If it's truly too unweildy and you wish to retire it, then I'd get a cleaver.

                        As to petty knifes /paring knives. They are nice but any good non-serrated steak knife will do that too.

                        I have owned chef's knives but simply prefer the feel of a santoku. I'm not saying that I wouldn't someday buy a good gyuto. Frankly, I'd rather own a deba - these are good for boning pork, beef, etc. And they look ... cool.

                        I own 2 slicers (1 long serrated type and 1 single bevel japanese slicer for sashimi, etc) but I really don't need them. Any one of my better santokus slice very well. If you stole my slicers I probably wouldn't notice for quite some time. And then I probably wouldn't care.

                        There are quite a few really good nakiris available for $50-80 or so. Tojiro makes these as well as others. Some are high carbon and some stainless. All are sharp. I just bought the Dojo Nakiri, which is a bit more at $80 but I also wanted super blue steel.

                        You may also wish to bounce ideas off of Mark at cktg - he's very helpful and will email you back pretty quickly.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: jkling17
                          cowboyardee RE: jkling17 Dec 8, 2011 06:47 AM

                          " Frankly, I'd rather own a deba - these are good for boning pork, beef, etc. And they look ... cool."
                          _____________
                          I don't think i've ever heard of someone using a deba to bone pork or beef. AFAIK, a traditional deba is a very specialized knife that's only really used for fish. I'm not an expert in debas and I don't personally own one - but I know that i personally would go for a hankotsu or honesuki for boning.

                          Also note the difference between a traditional deba and a Western deba. They're completely different knives. The former is a single bevelled dedicated fish filleting knife; the latter is more of a general purpose heavy duty knife (double bevellled). Neither is particularly geared toward boning beef and pork.

                          Incidentally, you also mention winter squashes in regards to 'heavy work.' IME, winter squashes are actually cut much, much easier using a very thin knife that you would think of as delicate. The major source of resistance when cutting squash is wedging - so when you use a super thin knife (if you have one) it cuts smooth and easy like any other vegetable. Celery root actually gives me more resistance.

                          1. re: cowboyardee
                            j
                            jkling17 RE: cowboyardee Dec 8, 2011 01:52 PM

                            Hi Cowboy,

                            On the deba - thanks for the additional information. If I do get one it will likely be a double bevel but with a japanese handle. I just think they are pretty cool looking and want one, with honestly little need per se. I don't do anything that is a "big tough boning job" . The pork shoulder than I buy regularly is slow cooked until I can pull it apart. So those bones are irrelevant. And my big cuts of beef are either boneless or steaks.

                            >> Incidentally, you also mention winter squashes in regards to 'heavy work.' IME, winter squashes are actually cut much, much easier using a very thin knife that you would think of as delicate. The major source of resistance when cutting squash is wedging - so when you use a super thin knife (if you have one) it cuts smooth and easy like any other vegetable.

                            I recently did retry using my Japanese carbon santoku, freshly sharpened, on a butternut squash. It is superb at slicing off the skin, once I've cut a section off. Better than all my other knives. Even fun to do that. But I still don't like it for cutting crosswise through the entire vegetable, skin and all. It's fairly thin but I feel like I'm really abusing the blade if I use it for that. The blade just doesn't seem to like being used for that purpose and perhaps it's just really not the right design for it.

                            But for this I really do like my cleaver for this - I just set it down to get an initial cut and then use my 2x4 scrap to tap the back of the blade. I'm sure that I'll buy another rubber mallot at some point, once we redo the kitchen - I own one but it's for paint cans and such.

                            Celery is evil and never crosses my doorstep :-)

                            1. re: jkling17
                              cowboyardee RE: jkling17 Dec 8, 2011 02:26 PM

                              "I recently did retry using my Japanese carbon santoku, freshly sharpened, on a butternut squash...I still don't like it for cutting crosswise through the entire vegetable, skin and all. It's fairly thin but I feel like I'm really abusing the blade if I use it for that. "
                              _________
                              There are a couple factors we're not discussing that come into play. One is physical strength and comfort level with ones knives. I wish it didn't sound so self-serving, but it's true. What works 'easily' for me is not the same as what works easily for you, which is not the same as what works easily for Grandma, which is not the same as what works easily for Arnold Schwartzenegger.

                              Another factor is knife length. The job is easier if you can press down on the spine of the knife over the tip as you cut. A shorter knife might not extend much past the far side of the squash, depending on the squash.

                              Perhaps the biggest factor is the grind of the knife. I don't know which santoku you own. What matters isn't really the sharpness of the edge (of course it matters somewhat) but how thick the metal is immediately behind the edge. The knife I use for winter squash is a sort of extreme case in terms of this thinness - it's a Yusuke gyuto, one of the knives that the knife forums guys call a 'laser.' I've cut hard squash before with other Japanese knives that aren't quite so thin behind their edges - my old Global, my still-in-use Hiromoto. While I still prefer to use these knives over a big thick heavy knife, they didn't make the job anywhere near as easy as my Yusuke does.

                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                j
                                jkling17 RE: cowboyardee Dec 8, 2011 03:26 PM

                                Cowboy,

                                I'm sure that you are right, and defer to your expertise. To me, my santoku is "thin" - it's merely a tosagata santoku from japanwoodworker. I'd call it a "nice entry level carbon Japanese blade". I'm sure that my santoku isn't remotely close to being described as a laser. To me, it's thin but hardly a professional level high end blade. It's easy to sharpen but loses that hair cutting edge more quickly than I'd like so I'm really looking forward to that super blue nikiri.

                                I can cut the squash in the way that you describe with it, pushing down with the heel but it just feels wrong. When I do it it's like "this isn't the right knife for that job" and I don't know if it would actually be abusing the edge but it feels wrong. Once the squash is cleaved through, I have to agree with you that this blade is now really fun for slicing off the skin from that section.

                                I prefer to reserve my santoku for scallions, potatoes, peeled squash, brussels sprouts, onions, etc. Probably the most challenging normal veggie are brussels sprouts. Their varied structure really is an excellent guage for when my edge isn't super sharp anymore. We just love eating these little guys.

                                I've tried to find out more about that knife of yours. Is it a Sakai? Would you be kind enough to post some links on places to buy it? I have found some links but I'm not sure if these are correct:

                                http://stores.ebay.com/BluewayJapan/_...
                                http://www.chefknivestogo.com/takayuk...

                                Jeff

                                1. re: jkling17
                                  m
                                  montrealeater RE: jkling17 Dec 8, 2011 04:03 PM

                                  That description of the knife "not being the right" one for the job is exactly how I feel when I use my Henckels to try and cut squash. Made me chuckle a bit, this stuff is so dependent on the person using the knife. I don't consider myself a weakling (Im not Wonder Woman but I'm strong for my weight, I think) but that Henckels vs a squash always makes me feel like I'm just using the wrong tool/doing the wrong thing. I feel like I'm not strong enough to physically bash/force something that thick through a squash. So, for me, I think a thinner blade is a good idea. But I can see someone with more arm strength having no problem using the heavy Henckels knife.

                                  What is this super blue nakiri you speak of? Do you have a link?

                                  1. re: montrealeater
                                    j
                                    jkling17 RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 04:28 PM

                                    Sure - it's the Dojo Nakiri from chefsknivestogo. I hope that it will arrive tomorrow (fingers crossed). It's $80. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/dojousu....

                                    The cladding is stainless but the core, and therefore the cutting edge, is super blue carbon steel. This is a very hard carbon steel that "should" hold it's edge better than other carbon steels. Apparently, this is due to the addition of small amounts of certain trace elements. I don't pretend to understand metal composition. All I know about blue steel is merely what I've read. It won't be "as reactive" as white steel or "blue 1" or "blue 2". But ... it still should be cared for as any high carbon blade - clean it by hand immediately after use and wipe it dry.

                                    Honestly, I would prefer if this nakiri were available with a japanese handle but that would mean $150 or so instead of $80. I can only hope that it is comfortable in my hand and am taking a bit of a chance but I "want that steel". Someday, I'll happily get a high end santoku or gyuto for $125-200 but not today. Since I do a LOT of veggie prep, the nakiri was a natural pick for my personal needs.

                                    If I wasn't quite so hung up on edge retention, I would probably have gotten the Tojiro white steel nakiri. I'll hapily post a review once it arrives and I slice and chop everything in my kitchen. The veggies are scared ... I told them that it'll be here soon.

                                    I am glad to see that you bought the CCK cleaver. If I were to buy a new one that would be my pick as well. I hope that it really enhances your prep experience. It's one that is still on my list and I'll probably get it next year. Please run it through it's paces and post a review. I would really be interested in your perspective as a woman as to it's feel and heft, and ease of use.

                                    1. re: jkling17
                                      Chemicalkinetics RE: jkling17 Dec 8, 2011 04:33 PM

                                      "I'll hapily post a review once it arrives"

                                      Please do

                                      "The veggies are scared ... I told them that it'll be here soon"

                                      Eiron, you hear that? Someone is trying to be funnier than you. :D

                                  2. re: jkling17
                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: jkling17 Dec 8, 2011 04:15 PM

                                    jkling,

                                    cowboyardee wrote a review for his Sakai Yusuke white steel gyuto here:

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7579...

                                    Tosagata knives are great buy, but they are kinda of on thicker side of Japanese knives, which has its good and bad. :)

                                    1. re: jkling17
                                      cowboyardee RE: jkling17 Dec 8, 2011 08:47 PM

                                      I actually have the Tossagata nakiri and the Tossagata fruit knife/paring knife. They're great hunks of steel, especially for the money, but as Chem says, they tend to be sort of thick behind the edge as Japanese knives go.

                                      I'm curious to see how you like the Dojo nakiri. It seems to me that blue super holds an edge just a tiny bit longer than the blue steel in the larger Tossagata knives. But one of the upsides of a knife that's slightly thinner behind the edge is that it can still feel sharp for a little bit longer since food doesn't give you as much resistance. Of course, I don't know quite what to expect in terms of the grind of the Dojo, since I've only used their paring knife.

                                      Chem beat me to the punch on the Yusuke. It is indeed the Sakai Yusuke. Mine is in white steel #2 with an ichii wood handle, though there are other steels and handles available, and it's custom ground for a left handed person. Here is a link to the blade:
                                      http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-Saka...
                                      Chem posted a link to a thread where we discussed it at length.

                                2. re: cowboyardee
                                  d
                                  Dave5440 RE: cowboyardee Dec 8, 2011 03:11 PM

                                  A true deba (single bevel) really steers itself when not using it on fish , it's great for breaking down a chicken , but terrible on beef or pork unless you are trimming fat or silver skin

                                  1. re: Dave5440
                                    cowboyardee RE: Dave5440 Dec 8, 2011 08:10 PM

                                    Yeah I could see how it would be nice for chicken, since none of the joints are hard to get into and cutting breast fillets is actually pretty similar to one of the cuts for filleting a fish.

                              2. w
                                Westy RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 05:53 AM

                                I use a Chinese cleaver more often than not. Dexter makes one that seems to be pretty popular and not overly expensive.
                                A bread knife is a luxury, but when you need one, it is so nice to have. For some reason, I don't mind te fact that mine is a really, really cheap model. My other knives are pretty good, Dexters and a Messermeister. It is nice to be able to slice and not crush bread.
                                I have a large Dexter chef's knife that is awfully nice to have. If I have family over and they want to cook, it is the one they reach for. Not sure why more don't use the cleaver, but maybe it is just more familiar.
                                A great buy: Those little multicolored petty knives (they often come with a protective sheath). Sharp as heck, an almost non-stick coating. Nice to have a few.
                                I do have a slicer/carving knife. I use it....only occasionally.

                                1. m
                                  montrealeater RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 01:01 PM

                                  "What handle style are you ok with? Japanese handle, western handle? Would you prefer stainless or high carbon. What type of grip do you like? Pinch grip? Handle grip?"

                                  The answer to all of these questions is: I don't know. I have never held a knife in my hand and thought 'this handle doesn't work for me' so I don't feel like handle style is THAT important to me. It could just be ignorance on my part, tho. Nor do I know what you mean by handle vs pinch grip. If it's what I assume it is, I prefer handle grip. Regarding materials, this is somewhere i REALLY don't know what I need. I would rather have low maintenance knives. I mean, washing and drying and sharpening is low/normal to me. After having read some knife threads here it seems that there are some blade materials that require more than this?

                                  I've caught up on all the posts. The boning knife is out. Not really sure why I had that one so stuck in my head but no, I really don't do enough heavy duty boning (esp. of bigger bones/critters) to warrant a specific knife. Someone mentioned butternut squash and that made me chuckle - butternut squash is one of the reasons I decided my 2 current knives weren't going to cut it. I eat a LOT of b-but squash and it is a pain in the ass the prep. I use the Henckels, and just end up getting it wedged in there and then using my hand to smash down on the knife so it goes all the way through. Or, picking up the squash (with knife, which is wedged into it) and then hitting it against the counter to get the knife through it. Classical techniques in my kitchen. :)

                                  Veg prep is something I do a LOT of. And also something I want to become better at. I am still thinking nakiri or Chinese cleaver here. Also still thinking Santoku and paring knife.

                                  And to the person who asked, above, there is no arbitrary limit, I was just trying to keep myself from doing the very thing you described - going out and spending way too much $ on too many knives that were too specialised, out of ... just not knowing enough. If I get 3 knives and it turns out there's another that would really improve things, there's no problem in me getting it. I just want to avoid a drawerful full of, I don't know, the knife equivalent of the turbot pan (which someone is now going to tell me is essential, ha ha).

                                  Again thanks for all the commentary - I love the internet for the quick access to experts. :)

                                  Edit: I said "heavy duty boning" - /Beavis laugh

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: montrealeater
                                    c
                                    chuckl RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 01:25 PM

                                    If you are going to cut up hard skin veggies like butternut or acorn squash, youll want to use a pretty heavy knife, such as a german style chefs knife. Id recommend messermeister over wustoff or henckels. To complement that, id suggest a japanese or japanese style knife like a santoku. Check out tojiro. Unless you slice a lot of roasts on a regular basis, you can blow off a slicing knife, theyre mostly one trick ponies. Depending on how much bread you slice, think about a serrated bread knife. Forschner makes a nice one. Get a paring knife if you think youll need it, but its not essential.

                                    1. re: montrealeater
                                      cowboyardee RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 01:44 PM

                                      Consider the CCK cleaver.
                                      http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cckclea...

                                      It's got a great feel, very good steel, and a great grind. For $40, I really think it's one of the best values in kitchen knives you'll find. Especially for someone who does a lot of veg prep and is open to a Chinese cleaver. It's so thin behind the edge that you might even find you prefer using it for winter squash (as I said above, I disagree with the common advice to use a big heavy knife and actually prefer an especially thin knife for the job, since that make squash so much easier to cut).

                                      The only downside is that it is carbon steel. But it is not super reactive and seems to have some sort of protective coating anyway, so you'll be fine as long as you wash and dry the knife shortly after usage (frankly, this is the best practice for any kind of knife, carbon or stainless).

                                      Also, it's not a knife for cutting through bone, despite it's intimidating looks.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee
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                                        montrealeater RE: cowboyardee Dec 8, 2011 04:10 PM

                                        Cowboy - I just ordered this cleaver, thanks for the rec, great price. Am excited to get and use it! :)

                                        1. re: montrealeater
                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 04:32 PM

                                          :) Why would you buy the CCK knife from an American website when there are CCK store in Canada :P

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            m
                                            montrealeater RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 8, 2011 08:49 PM

                                            Because I had no idea we had CCK stores (in fact I had no idea it existed offline). I blame you for failing to mention it to me sooner. :)

                                          2. re: montrealeater
                                            cowboyardee RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 08:08 PM

                                            Wow - you're quick on the trigger. It's a really great knife. Hope you like it. Let us know.

                                            ETA - you use a slightly different grip for a Chinese cleaver than you might be used to - on the CCK the short handle actually forces you into it. Take a look at this video and skip to 3:45 to take a look at the grip you'll be using (or some variation thereof).
                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bhzRC...
                                            You can see the opposite side of that grip (the thumb side) at about 5:30.

                                            1. re: cowboyardee
                                              m
                                              montrealeater RE: cowboyardee Dec 8, 2011 09:03 PM

                                              Dude, I thought you were going to recommend $250+ knives - when I saw the $39 price on that, well, yay, that's not a purchase I need to think about.

                                              Watched it. Feel sort of weird. Got a new Youtube hero, anyway. Knife porn + knife skills + music? Man, sometimes you don't know you needed something until you get it. Both those grips look OK to me. I'm slightly pissed that grip is coming into this (in a petulant, entirely my fault way) - I nearly beat my tennis instructor to death over his interminable lectures to the teenaged me on handle grip. In a positive sense, I can now do probably any grip. Also, I have freakishly long, thin evil witch fingers (can palm a basketball!) so there are no worries about stubby fingers not being able to reach.

                                              Watching the cantaloupe skinning made me nervous. I am 80% sure if I tried that right now it'd end in blood. I would not have thought of a cleaver for doing that job, either, but it looks to do it almost effortlessly. I have a really odd urge to go chop some veg up right now.

                                              1. re: montrealeater
                                                cowboyardee RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 09:37 PM

                                                The grip isn't that hard - the handle of that particular knife sort of forces you into it anyway. I just figured the video might save you half an hour of fumbling around and second guessing yourself.

                                                "Watching the cantaloupe skinning made me nervous. I am 80% sure if I tried that right now it'd end in blood. I would not have thought of a cleaver for doing that job, either, but it looks to do it almost effortlessly."
                                                ___________
                                                With time and practice, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at everything a Chinese cleaver can do, and do well.

                                                1. re: cowboyardee
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                                                  montrealeater RE: cowboyardee Dec 9, 2011 02:11 PM

                                                  The video probably saved me more than half an hour - a few bandaids, too. And I *want* to learn how to use a cleaver in different ways - in the hands of some Chinese chefs, it seems extremely versatile - I mean, chef's knife versatile.

                                        2. re: montrealeater
                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 04:24 PM

                                          Hi Montreal,

                                          Here is a very short video which describe pinch grip. cowboyardee suggestion for a Chinese thin blade cleaver is not a bad choice. It is a rather thin knife so it can cut into big items without too much resistance. It is also a wide (tall) blade, so you have a lot of room to tap the knife spine if necessary. The downside is that it is carbon steel knife like cowboy has said.

                                          Montreal, do you live in Montreal Canada? Maybe you can purchase the stainless steel version of the CCK from the Chan chi kee store in Canada?

                                          http://www.chanchikee.com/toronto.htm

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                            montrealeater RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 8, 2011 09:05 PM

                                            Did you forget the video link? Or is it at the store link (if so, I couldn't find it...)? And yes, I'm in Montreal. I will check if there is a CCK store here, I could go and try some knives out for feel.

                                            1. re: montrealeater
                                              Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 9, 2011 06:51 AM

                                              Montrealeater,

                                              Thanks for the reminder. Yeah, I remember one link and forgot another. Here is the pinch grip video by Chard Ward:

                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq0FH2...

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                montrealeater RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2011 02:04 PM

                                                Thank you, that was really helpful. I watch a lot of cooking shows and have friends with knife skills that I cook with, so I see this all the time, but this vid spelled it out well and I can see that while I'm doing a version of this pinch+claw thing I'm not doing it correctly (and I have two cuts across the middle knuckle of my left index finger from a friend's super sharp knife to attest to this incorrectness). This Youtuber only has 3 vids uploaded, was hoping he'd have tons. If you (or anyone) knows of a series of Youtube vids aimed the beginner knife skills, I'd love a link - I've looked before and not really found exactly what I was after on YT.

                                                1. re: montrealeater
                                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 9, 2011 02:36 PM

                                                  :) Well, if we are here to share knife story, then I have this. After visiting the San Francisco Chinatown BBQ shop, I was very much inspired by their skills of chopping roast ducks. I went home and started to make big swings like they did. Before I knew it, I chopped through my fingernail (not finger) on my left hand. Long story short, I drove myself to the emergency room and they pulled off my entire fingernail. That wasn't the tough part since I was on anesthetic. The tough part was the week after. :)

                                                  I bet Chard Ward originally wanted to upload more videos but didn't. If you ever want a good knife book to read, Chard's "An Edge in the Kitchen" is a funny knife book. It is fairly diverse from history of knife to knife buying to knife skills to knife sharpening.

                                                  http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Kitchen-Ul...

                                                  If you are into standard European knife skill, then Norman Weinstein, a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, is a good person to look for. He has a few videos on youtubes:

                                                  http://www.youtube.com/user/Mastering...

                                                  Some of these skills are less applicable for Asian styles knives like Santoku, Chinese cleaver or gyuto...etc.

                                          2. re: montrealeater
                                            j
                                            jkling17 RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 04:34 PM

                                            Well you will soon have one very good cleaver. My honest recommendation is to get that Henckles of yours sharped up properly. I think that you'll find that it will be easier to use with a super sharp edge, and have a place in your kitchen for some time to come. Over time, you can add one really good knife at a time. As your hands are smaller, a shorter nakiri, gyoto or santoku might be in your future.

                                            Perhaps even a ceramic knife? They are very sharp and very light. I don't have one but kyocera makes very good one's for about $50-60. Personally, I like the idea of good steel but I also have zero experience using any ceramic knives.

                                            1. re: jkling17
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                                              montrealeater RE: jkling17 Dec 8, 2011 09:07 PM

                                              I am going to take the Henckels to be sharpened. It is...not currently sharp. If it was sharp, I bet I could deal with the chunkiness a lot better. If there are any other Montrealers in this thread, with knowledge of knife sharpening services, feel free to pass on the info.

                                              1. re: montrealeater
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                                                jkling17 RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 10:08 PM

                                                Been to Montreal twice - LOVE your town. Perhaps some of these might help:

                                                http://www.lesleychesterman.com/criti...
                                                http://www.montrealknife.com/index.html
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/630873
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/418393

                                                1. re: jkling17
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                                                  montrealeater RE: jkling17 Dec 9, 2011 02:06 PM

                                                  Thanks Jkling - that MontrealKnife place is pretty close to where I live, so I think I might take my Henckels there. :)

                                          3. SanityRemoved RE: montrealeater Dec 8, 2011 09:24 PM

                                            In your initial post you mentioned the boning knife and seemed to know why you would like one.

                                            Here is a good quality commercial boning knife that is inexpensive: http://www.sportco.com/store/pc/Dexte...

                                            You don't want a lot of knives at this time and you stated that you would get your knives professionally sharpened. For me those are two good reasons for a boning knife. Let the boning knife do the dirty work and battle the bones and joints. This will allow your primary knife to retain it's edge longer and be ready for the other cutting tasks.

                                            41 Replies
                                            1. re: SanityRemoved
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                                              montrealeater RE: SanityRemoved Dec 9, 2011 02:09 PM

                                              The main reason I was fixating on the boning knife is because I want to get into stockmaking. I do it now, but only as a special-occasion/learning opportunity thing. I'd like to do enough of this so that I always have my own frozen stock to go to - fish, chicken, veal etc. And I thought a knife that cuts/chops bones might be helpful, given my not-enormous stockpot. Thoughts on this? Do I need to be able to chop up bones, possibly thick(er) veal bones etc.?

                                              1. re: montrealeater
                                                SanityRemoved RE: montrealeater Dec 9, 2011 03:56 PM

                                                Boning knife to break down (disassemble) poultry and meat. A heavy duty cleaver (not the standard Chinese cleaver) for breaking through bones. A meat saw can also be used for the bones.

                                                I have this one on order http://www.dexter1818.com/Item_Detail...
                                                and will let you know how I like it. I wouldn't bother with a light duty cleaver (I'm not referring to a Chinese cleaver) if your intent is breaking up bones for stock. I dented one cutting turkey legs and it took some work to get it back to normal.

                                                1. re: SanityRemoved
                                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: SanityRemoved Dec 9, 2011 04:38 PM

                                                  "I have this one on order"

                                                  I hope you didn't directly order from Dexter-Russell. :(

                                                  It is usually more expensive to buy from the manufacturers than the distributors.

                                                  http://www.katom.com/135-08230.html

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                    SanityRemoved RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2011 04:55 PM

                                                    Funny story, I was at Buffalo Hotel Supply today checking on my cleaver's status, Tom, the cash and carry sales guy is on the phone with someone about the cleaver. Next thing I hear is "Yeah, he's standing right in front of me". Found out it was the main purchasing agent and if the order hadn't been entered into the system then the cleaver was going to be shipped from Dexter directly to the store I use. I do a bit of business with them but not on a restaurant scale by any means. It is nice to shop somewhere where being an individual customer you are still treated well.

                                                    I did pick up 2 Dexter traditional 10 1/2 " carving forks for Christmas presents and a Vollrath quarter sheet pan to use next to my cutting board to wipe trimmings into while cutting.

                                                    1. re: SanityRemoved
                                                      Chemicalkinetics RE: SanityRemoved Dec 9, 2011 05:00 PM

                                                      :) Nice.

                                                  2. re: SanityRemoved
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                                                    montrealeater RE: SanityRemoved Dec 9, 2011 04:40 PM

                                                    OK, so, to be clear, I need a heavy cleaver, NOT a boning knife for chopping through bone? Because yes, that's what I mostly plan to do. I misunderstood the uses for a boning knife, I think.

                                                    1. re: montrealeater
                                                      Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 9, 2011 04:42 PM

                                                      Oh.... thanks SanityRemoved for noticing this. Yes, SanityRemoved (aka S.R.) is correct. A meat cleaver/a heavy cleaver is to cleaver/chop through hard objects like bones. A boning knife is for boning/deboning a carcass. It is to cut around the bone, not at the bone.

                                                      1. re: montrealeater
                                                        SanityRemoved RE: montrealeater Dec 9, 2011 05:06 PM

                                                        A boning knife lets you get in between joints and to make the removal of meat from bones easier. It also is used for removing bones from poultry and from meat. The Dexter Sani-Safe 6" boning knife that I linked above is pretty useful. You won't be using a pinch grin on it as much as a handle grip and it's handle is very good grip-wise when wet and has the guard to keep your fingers away from the blade.

                                                        To me the cleaver and boning knife go hand in hand if you are breaking down stuff for stock. Generally you want as much meat off the bones to eat and the cleaver takes over when you are done with the boning knife.

                                                        1. re: montrealeater
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                                                          GH1618 RE: montrealeater Dec 9, 2011 06:39 PM

                                                          A heavy cleaver will hack up a chicken, bones and all, but unless you are very accurate you will get bone chips. I have a heavy Chinese cleaver, but I hardly ever use it. I use my stiff boning knife often for trimming chicken and other meat.

                                                          It comes down to personal preference, and your preferences may change over time.

                                                          Why do you want to chop through bone?

                                                          1. re: GH1618
                                                            Chemicalkinetics RE: GH1618 Dec 9, 2011 06:44 PM

                                                            "Why do you want to chop through bone?"

                                                            And you don't? :)

                                                            Nah seriously, I think it is to get to the bone marrow.

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                              GH1618 RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2011 06:49 PM

                                                              No, i don't. Chicken I want to separate at the joints. If I want a soup bone, beef or pork, it is cut by the butcher (with a saw). So the bone in a ham goes into the soup the way it comes out of the ham. I don't want bone chips in the soup.

                                                              1. re: GH1618
                                                                SanityRemoved RE: GH1618 Dec 9, 2011 08:20 PM

                                                                The OP wanted bones to fit in a smaller stock pot for stock.

                                                                1. re: SanityRemoved
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                                                                  GH1618 RE: SanityRemoved Dec 9, 2011 08:44 PM

                                                                  I never bought a piece of meat with a bone too large to fit in a pot. What would that be? I suppose there are some who are into buying a side of beef and butchering it at home, but most people are not. Here, the OP is a self-described novice with knives, and apparently doesn't own a large pot, and she's going to buy a cut of meat with a bone so large it won't fit in the pot? It doesn't make any sense to me.

                                                                  1. re: GH1618
                                                                    cowboyardee RE: GH1618 Dec 9, 2011 09:07 PM

                                                                    If you're just making stock, cutting the meat into small pieces and breaking up the bones cuts down your cooking time. I've even seen recommendations that go so far as throwing breaking down the carcass just a bit and then throwing the whole thing into a high powered food processor before making stock.

                                                                    1. re: GH1618
                                                                      SanityRemoved RE: GH1618 Dec 10, 2011 03:08 PM

                                                                      I think most people who post here want to progress beyond novice in many areas and I don't mean this to be sarcastic or caustic. What I think happens sometimes is that people see chefs doing something and say oh I can do that and they do it and it works i.e. taking a chef's knife through a chicken drumstick. Then they look at something a little larger and figure "I did it with the chicken leg, this shouldn't be a problem". So they give the larger bone a whack and the only thing that happened is that they damaged their knife. I personally did that with a light duty cleaver (generally marketed as a cleaver). Fortunately I could repair it myself but many people can't.

                                                                      I have more than one chef's knife at my disposal so while damaging one wouldn't be the end, it would be for someone who has only one knife. I don't think everyone needs every tool available but I do believe that it's better to use the proper tool for the task rather than damaging another tool.

                                                                      I agree that if you wanted to do ham bones then a saw is the best choice but the OP talked about veal stock.

                                                                  2. re: GH1618
                                                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: GH1618 Dec 9, 2011 11:31 PM

                                                                    "If I want a soup bone, beef or pork, it is cut by the butcher (with a saw)"

                                                                    True. It is certainly more convenience.

                                                                    When I was learning how to make Vietnamese Pho stock, it was advised to use bone with marrow to give extra favor and body (texture). I suppose a cleaver which can crack bone can get to that, but you are correct, I almost always just buy the pre-cut one.

                                                                    On the other hand, this is probably why I haven't had the chance to really use my meat cleaver.

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                      bbqJohn RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 10, 2011 11:29 AM

                                                                      I can just picture someone using a Cleaver on bones only to crack a counter top with the force it takes to crack some larger bones.

                                                                      Living near a Vietnamese community where Pho is available, I realize they favor a marrow beef stock, however isn't marrow just fatty and clouds normal stock?

                                                                      Off topic and maybe off base but I thought the benefit from home made stock was to get the nutrients out of the bones and not necessarily the marrow.

                                                                      1. re: bbqJohn
                                                                        Chemicalkinetics RE: bbqJohn Dec 10, 2011 02:33 PM

                                                                        bbqJohn,

                                                                        You know I am not disagreeing with you, right? I am just trying to offer the other side of the argument.

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                          bbqJohn RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 10, 2011 04:13 PM

                                                                          I didn't even know there was an argument-over my head I guess.

                                                                          I do think that a heavy duty knife is helpful for those certain situations when one wants to spare their go to prep knife. For example I'm not gonna use my go to knife to spatchcock a chicken or more recently a turkey as I prefer to save the blade on the "go to".

                                                                          By heavy I mean a dedicated cleaver, thick Chef's, Forschner Breaking, Cimeter, machete, etc. any cutting tool that can at least cut through chicken back bones and I don't have to worry about stressing the blade.

                                                                          1. re: bbqJohn
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                                                                            Dave5440 RE: bbqJohn Dec 10, 2011 05:59 PM

                                                                            I just watched a video on how to spatchcock a chicken, it looks like it is quite easy and would require some finesse as opposed to hacking at it with a cleaver.
                                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGKLtb...

                                                                            1. re: Dave5440
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                                                                              bbqJohn RE: Dave5440 Dec 10, 2011 06:01 PM

                                                                              No defineatly no hacking but it will require cutting through bones that I for one will choose another knife beside my "go to" prep knife.

                                                                              1. re: bbqJohn
                                                                                cowboyardee RE: bbqJohn Dec 10, 2011 06:12 PM

                                                                                My honesuki works just fine for spatchcocking. Not a massive knife, but definitely sturdy. It's not a job where I would use my thin, acute edged gyuto.

                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                  scubadoo97 RE: cowboyardee Dec 11, 2011 05:42 AM

                                                                                  My honesuki is what I also use to spatchock my chickens. Slides through the rib bones with ease and around the thigh bones with little difficulty. Amazingly when inspected I don't see microchips. I know the blade is on the thick side but the 90/10 edge I thought would be more fragile.

                                                                                2. re: bbqJohn
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                                                                                  Dave5440 RE: bbqJohn Dec 10, 2011 06:43 PM

                                                                                  I've unknowingly been spatchcocking for years(never heard the term before) and I always use my main knife, as after the birds cut a quick wash and on to the veg and spuds. But in that video I didn't see any bones get cut, and the only bones I hit are the ribs when I'm off, and the keel bone which doesn't offer much resistance to my gyuto, but the next one I do i'm going to try to pull it out instead of cutting it.

                                                                                  1. re: Dave5440
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                                                                                    bbqJohn RE: Dave5440 Dec 10, 2011 07:04 PM

                                                                                    Dave- I meant the bones that attach to the backbone-rib bones I guess is what they are called. There are bones there and that's probably why he used shears vs his boning knife.

                                                                                    Most knives should be able to cut through these bones but I have two reasons to use another knife;
                                                                                    1. I have a stiffer knife blade that is more appropriate for small bones and
                                                                                    2. I use my "go to" for work prep and I want to maintain that knife's edge as long as possible.

                                                                                    1. re: bbqJohn
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                                                                                      Dave5440 RE: bbqJohn Dec 10, 2011 07:51 PM

                                                                                      Yes I forgot about the spine, but I seem to remember there is a path through the bones that is just connective tissue but I may be wrong and it would be time consuming, I just stand it up and run the knife straight down ,no harm no fowl
                                                                                      hahahahaha I made a funny

                                                                                    2. re: Dave5440
                                                                                      j
                                                                                      jkling17 RE: Dave5440 Dec 10, 2011 07:15 PM

                                                                                      This is one of my favorites. I've never spatchcok'd :-) But I've done butterflied chickens for years, using the standard technique from Cooks Illustrated Best Recipe. I still have yet to "man up" and try and emulate Jacques Pepin. THat man has talent!

                                                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAekQ5...

                                                                                      1. re: jkling17
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                                                                                        bbqJohn RE: jkling17 Dec 10, 2011 07:31 PM

                                                                                        I don't know if there is a difference between Spatchcock and Butterfly chicken. I believe they are the same. Jacques does use a heavy Chef's knife to crack those leg bones which was my initial point-although not critical it's nice to have a heavier knife to do things like that vs. using a lighter prep knife or when one wants to preserve their lighter prep knife.

                                                                                        1. re: bbqJohn
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                                                                                          montrealeater RE: bbqJohn Dec 10, 2011 07:54 PM

                                                                                          I've read all the new posts and I think I may get a not-super-heavy cleaver and a pair of kitchen shears (the latter I need anyway). I had it in my head that bones were better for stock if they'd been cut up a bit (don't ask me why, I think I read it somewhere, and it's possible I just imagined it), but apparently not? I can just throw a cleaned off chicken carcass in there? And have the butcher prepare larger (veal, ham etc.) bones? Maybe I don't need the cleaver ay all and could get away with shears and my heavy Henckels, sharpened? I want to learn how to debone a chicken and break down larger pieces. But maybe I'm getting ajead of myself.

                                                                                          Thanks for the Youtube links, those are always helpful.

                                                                                          1. re: montrealeater
                                                                                            Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 10, 2011 08:07 PM

                                                                                            "I've read all the new posts and I think I may get a not-super-heavy cleaver"

                                                                                            What are you getting for? I think a medium blade Chinese cleaver will work just fine for chickens and ducks. For larger animals, you may need a thicker cleaver. It is all about what you want to use it for. Here is a fun video for you (not directly related to your question, but you may enjoy it):

                                                                                            http://youtu.be/xc7dwzFiieg

                                                                                            "Maybe I don't need the cleaver ay all and could get away with shears and my heavy Henckels"

                                                                                            Yeah, it is really up to you where you want to stop and where to start. So you don't really need a heavy cleaver if you don't want to. It is just nice to have. I actually have never found my shears very useful for butcher or for deboning...etc. I do use my shears for cutting parchment paper....

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                                              Dave5440 RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 10, 2011 08:23 PM

                                                                                              Hey chem, do you know if there is a clever that will go through a beef bone? My dog can crush any bone on a pig with one bite(legs included) but one beef rib will last him till he buries it , intact with a few tooth marks in it, so I know it's much harder than pig or chicken. I recently found my grannies machette( dispatched a lot of chickens from what I remember) I have been tempted to try giving it a whack so to speak

                                                                                              1. re: Dave5440
                                                                                                Chemicalkinetics RE: Dave5440 Dec 10, 2011 08:30 PM

                                                                                                "Hey chem, do you know if there is a clever that will go through a beef bone?"

                                                                                                I doubt it. I don't think most cleavers have the momentum to go through a beef bone with normal human strength. An axe may be. :P

                                                                                                "My dog can crush any bone on a pig with one bite"

                                                                                                :) You have a tough dog. What kind of dog is that? Let me guess. A rottweiler, right?

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                                                  Dave5440 RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 10, 2011 08:38 PM

                                                                                                  No not a rotttie, border collie/shepherd but he's a big suck, till you mess with his baby, a jack russel terror(not his dna but he thinks it is), we were at a pig roast and bbq guy gave him an entire leg to cart away, 35 min even the hoof was gone

                                                                                                  1. re: Dave5440
                                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: Dave5440 Dec 10, 2011 08:58 PM

                                                                                                    Dave,

                                                                                                    You know how when you watch one youtube will lead you to another one? I just found a pretty cool youtube video by accident about using a thick Chinese cleaver to prepare suckling pig. What impressed me is not how the cleaver cutting through the bone, but the fact that instructor was able to balance "cutting through and cutting around bones" and "keep the pig intact". Of particular, he was showing the students how to split the spine using the beginner mode (at 1:37 min) and the more advanced mode (2:09 min). Either cases is to split the bone, but do not cut through the skin.

                                                                                                    http://youtu.be/AxXwkD6k3oM

                                                                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                                                jkling17 RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 10, 2011 08:30 PM

                                                                                                I bought a really good set of poultry shears a bunch of years ago when I first started doing buterflied chickens. I think they were probably about $25-30. I can't recall. They are solid and stainless. On one hand they are well-suited to the task but they are useless for much else. Unfortunately, then handles get slippery once they get animal fat on them. And then, you need to break from your prep to do some cleanup. They are one of the only things that I truly wish that I never bought for my kitchen.

                                                                                                Having one inexpensive medium/heavy chinese stainless cleaver is a good thing. They are easy to resharpen, cost $10-15 and you'll never worry about hurting it. My 2 cents.

                                                                                                1. re: jkling17
                                                                                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: jkling17 Dec 10, 2011 08:33 PM

                                                                                                  "Having one inexpensive medium/heavy chinese stainless cleaver is a good thing. They are easy to resharpen, cost $10-15 and you'll never worry about hurting it."

                                                                                                  I think they are also useful because you can treat them as your abuse knife. This way, I can keep my normal knife at really low edge angle and keep it really sharp. If I don't have a Chinese cleaver and have only one main knife, then I cannot keep it at very low angle.

                                                                                                  1. re: jkling17
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                                                                                                    Dave5440 RE: jkling17 Dec 10, 2011 08:40 PM

                                                                                                    I wonder if tin snips at 12~15$ would work better?

                                                                                                2. re: montrealeater
                                                                                                  SanityRemoved RE: montrealeater Dec 10, 2011 08:46 PM

                                                                                                  If you watched the Jacques Pepin video, that is a good way of breaking the drumsticks. There are also clips of him using the cutting edge of the blade also when he wants to remove the end. If you only have one knife then the spine of the blade is preferred. A good quality cutting board that remains in one place is important.

                                                                                                  Good quality kitchen shears are necessary for cutting through the rib cage of chicken. A cheap pair can break and may not be a pleasant experience.

                                                                                                  I buy whole chickens more than any other type of chicken, whatever trimmings and bones are left over go into a gallon size ziploc bag into the freezer. When I get enough, it's time to make stock. As long as you can manage removing the bones from the pot it really doesn't matter how large it is, as long as they are at or below the water line.

                                                                                                  Sometimes you will see Jacques Pepin using a utility knife to debone a chicken and other times he will use a boning knife.

                                                                                                  A good butcher should be accommodating with requests for cutting large bones and may also be able to provide you with bones for stocks such as veal.

                                                                                                  The "minute and a half" to debone a chicken isn't going to come without a lot of practice. Jacques Pepin knows the anatomy of a chicken better than any chicken :)

                                                                                                  1. re: SanityRemoved
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                                                                                                    Dave5440 RE: SanityRemoved Dec 10, 2011 09:03 PM

                                                                                                    I always buy whole chickens, usually Halal (not sure why but they are 4$ cheaper than normal) i've always cut them up using the same knife (the one I grabbed)but when dinner is done I take all the bones off the plates, the meat(Oh the horror) and the carcass and into the stock pot it goes where I leave it over night (after being simmered) where I resimmer it in the morning , then it might sit all day then bring to a rolling boil at night then strain and freeze, I'm assuming you throw the bones away from served plates?

                                                                                                    1. re: Dave5440
                                                                                                      SanityRemoved RE: Dave5440 Dec 10, 2011 09:24 PM

                                                                                                      Yes, I don't save the served bones. While I can see the economics of it I usually end up with more bones in the freezer than I can use for stock at one time and with a side by side fridge/freezer there isn't enough room.

                                                                                                      1. re: SanityRemoved
                                                                                                        scubadoo97 RE: SanityRemoved Dec 11, 2011 05:51 AM

                                                                                                        My little side by side freezer is flush with bags of bones.

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                                                                  bbqJohn RE: montrealeater Dec 9, 2011 06:27 PM

                                                                  I don't use it much but I have an 8 in Forschner Breaking knife that gets through smallish bones like poultry back /rib bones to spatchcock a bird and also used it cut through a Salmon back bone to create Salmon steaks from whole fish.

                                                                  On Thanksgiving I used it to prep a Pepin/M Stewart Deconstructed Turkey.

                                                                  For large bones I'd use a chisel (or heavy cleaver) and rubber mallet or hack saw. I helped break down a pig a few months back with just a hack saw and boning knife.

                                                                  Forschner Breaking or Cimeters knives are heavy duty and used mostly in the meat industry.

                                                                  http://www.cutleryandmore.com/victori...

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: bbqJohn
                                                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: bbqJohn Dec 9, 2011 06:45 PM

                                                                    "I helped break down a pig a few months back with just a hand saw and boning knife."

                                                                    Have you considered shorten the statement to:

                                                                    "I helped break down a pig a few months back with just a hand "

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                      bbqJohn RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2011 06:49 PM

                                                                      meant "hack saw"

                                                                      1. re: bbqJohn
                                                                        Chemicalkinetics RE: bbqJohn Dec 9, 2011 06:50 PM

                                                                        I still think you should have said that you destroyed the pig with your bare hands..... That image is just so awesome.

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                          bbqJohn RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2011 06:54 PM

                                                                          Ah,, no it was already dead, skinned, and cut into four or so large pieces when we got it. I helped break it down further into chops, ribs, hams, shoulder pieces, etc.

                                                                  2. Robin Joy RE: montrealeater Dec 10, 2011 09:50 PM

                                                                    Three types of knife is tough, but just about OK if you don't need to fillet fish. How many of each though? Avoiding flavour and raw meat cross contamination means that you will either spend a lot of time washing and drying, or reaching for a fresh one. Two chef's, minimum, and probably 5 paring. Nothing beats a Victorinox 4" parer. Luckily they're cheap!

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                                                                      montrealeater RE: montrealeater Dec 25, 2011 03:04 PM

                                                                      So, I had to come post about my new knife. A friend bought it for me as an Xmas gift - it is a Shun Elite, not sure what model, not a chef's knife (it's large but has a serrated-looking edge), and apparently was had for a song because the Shun Elite line is discontinued. Soooo, what do I do with my new knife? I use it to cut up some herbs we needed for the Xmas dinner feast. And promptly chopped the tip of my left thumb about 75% off. It bled like crazy and I have 4 stitches and it's throbbing like a sumbitch right now. Yay for me. I think I will be using children's scissors and butter knives from now on. :/ Everyone here is highly amused by my situation, given that I gave them all a mini lecture about being safe with the knife if they used it, because it was so sharp. I'm an IDIOT!

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: montrealeater
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                                                                        Dave5440 RE: montrealeater Dec 25, 2011 03:09 PM

                                                                        Good one , you're not an idiot we've all done it, and some of us keep doing it, sorry I did laugh when I read it though.

                                                                        1. re: montrealeater
                                                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 25, 2011 03:11 PM

                                                                          "a Shun Elite, not sure what model, not a chef's knife (it's large but has a serrated-looking edge)"

                                                                          A bread knife?
                                                                          http://origin.kaboodle.com/hi/img/c/0...

                                                                          or the U2?

                                                                          http://images.surlatable.com/surlatab...

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                            montrealeater RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 25, 2011 09:49 PM

                                                                            The second one. It is crazy sharp - it kept getting stuck in my wooden cutting board. Does anyone know if this needs any special care? Should I be drying the blade immediately after washing it or can it dry in the dishrack with the other cutlery?

                                                                            Still feeling like a bit of a div, and they didn't even give me any good painkillers at the hospital. Tylenol, pssshh.

                                                                            1. re: montrealeater
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                                                                              Dave5440 RE: montrealeater Dec 25, 2011 09:56 PM

                                                                              You don't want or need anything stronger , 3's or perks are way overated

                                                                              1. re: montrealeater
                                                                                Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 25, 2011 10:30 PM

                                                                                "Does anyone know if this needs any special care?"

                                                                                Nothing too different from other stainless steel knives.

                                                                                "Should I be drying the blade immediately after washing it or can it dry in the dishrack with the other cutlery?"

                                                                                You do want to wipe it with a towel. It does not has to be super dry, but it shouldn't be dripping.

                                                                                "they didn't even give me any good painkillers at the hospital. Tylenol"

                                                                                Something for you to look at. I know your health insurance covers this, and so you may not pay close attention to bill (since you only had to pay copay). However, take a close look of your bill and see how much your health insurance had to pay for your Tylenol. I bet you were charged $50-70 for that Tylenol pill administration.

                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                                  montrealeater RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 25, 2011 11:32 PM

                                                                                  I have never dried my Henckels knife - just left it in the dishrack with everything else. I wonder if that helped eff it up? As for the hospital, I didn't pay anything and I have never seen a medical bill, at least not that I recall. They were very nice and only one doctor laughed at me, in a nice, slightly patronizing manner.

                                                                                  As for the painkillers, no, I did not NEED them. But it's Xmas, I'm hungover, and want them I did (in opiate form, anyway). I certainly HOPE the Tylenol didnt cost $70! :)

                                                                                  1. re: montrealeater
                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: montrealeater Dec 26, 2011 12:23 AM

                                                                                    "I have never dried my Henckels knife - just left it in the dishrack with everything else. I wonder if that helped eff it up?"

                                                                                    Henckels steel is a bit more stainless than Shun steel. Shun steel can discolor if left wet.

                                                                                    "As for the hospital, I didn't pay anything and I have never seen a medical bill, at least not that I recall."

                                                                                    Your insurance covers it. The hospitals do charge the insurance companies.

                                                                                    "I certainly HOPE the Tylenol didnt cost $70! :)"

                                                                                    I have seen some pretty ridiculous hospital costs. They may not charge you much if they just hand you over the pills and tell you take them at home, but if they help you "administrate" the pill in the hospital, like getting you a glass of water or something and make you didn't choke yourself to death.... there will be a cost for that.

                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                                                                      Dave5440 RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 26, 2011 07:05 AM

                                                                                      I'm assuming montrealeater is canadian so the only bills we see are for the ambulance ride

                                                                                      1. re: Dave5440
                                                                                        scubadoo97 RE: Dave5440 Dec 26, 2011 07:13 AM

                                                                                        Yes, I was thinking that too. I was going to suggest not going to the ER for stitches unless there is no alternative urgent care center open. A simple visit can easily set you back over $1500. Even if you have insurance many plans are deductible and Co Ins. for ER visits when you are not admitted. And that's a big bill to pay for a couple of stitches.

                                                                            2. re: montrealeater
                                                                              rosetown RE: montrealeater Dec 25, 2011 03:18 PM

                                                                              Edit:
                                                                              I've deleted my post because some might have been offended - offence not intended - sorry

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