Cleaning your knife correctly, protects your investment. I use my paring knife and my chef's knife almost every day. I’d estimate that I’ve used my paring knife at least 7,000 times and my chef’s knife around 4,000 times. Because I clean them properly and hone them before almost every use, they still cut as well as they did when I purchased them almost 20 years ago.
Here are a few simple tips I’ve learned from caring for my knives:
I always wash my good kitchen knives by hand. I never put them into the dishwasher. Banging around against other items in the dishwasher can dull the knife and could tear up the dish washer rack over time.
Always keep the knife out of the water until you’re ready to wash it. If getting cut by a knife is no fun; getting cut by a dirty knife in dirty dishwater is a thousand times worse and you can get a nasty cut feeling around in the sink for a knife. Wash the knife by hand very carefully with soap and water and a sponge. Keep the knife blade pointed away from you.
If you need to soak it for a few minutes because there is something stuck on the blade, fill a pot with water and put the knife in the pot. Make sure the knife handle is clearly visible.
Let the knife air dry or carefully dry it with a towel with the blade facing away from the towel and you.
Never put a wet or dirty knife back into a knife block. The knife may start to rust and if food or dirt gets into the knife block, it can be very difficult to remove.
If you follow these simple steps, a good kitchen knife should last for decades.
Have you ever had a car that was out alignment? It still got you to where you were going, but it probably pulled a little to one side and it wasn’t good for your tires.
It’s the same way with a knife. A sharpening steel (like the one seen above) doesn’t sharpen your knife. What it really does is fix the alignment of the blade. If you really need your knife sharpened, contact a specialty shop which sells Henckels or Wustof knives; they should be able to tell you where to take your knife to have it sharpened.
A few obvious warnings – you only use a sharpening steel with with a smooth knife blade such as a chef’s knife or a paring knife. Do not use it on a knife with a serrated or scalloped blade. There are also a few really rare kitchen knives which aren’t supposed to be sharpened this way. If you have one of those, you were probably sold special honing tools when you bought the knife.
Second warning – when you’re running the knife blade down the sharpening steel, always run the blade away from yourself.
What do I use? I have a J.A. Henckels 9-Inch Poly Sharpening Steel. I’d estimate that I’ve used my paring knife at least 7,000 times and my chef’s knife around 4,000 times. Because I hone them before almost every use, they still cut as well as they did when I purchased them almost 20 years ago.
So, how do you use your sharpening steel? Rub the edge of the knife blade along the length of the steel at about a 20 degree angle. Do this 4 to 5 times for each side of the blade.
Norman Weinstein knows knifes. For over 10 years, Norman was a knife instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. Plus, he has written an excellent book Mastering Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Tools in Your Kitchen. I know you’re wondering how you can learn knife skills from a book, but Mastering Knife Skills also includes a 30 minute DVD which demonstrates the techniques taught in the book.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s Norman Weinstein demonstrating how to use a sharpening steel.
Here are some steps to carve and serve a turkey. I recommend cooking a turkey using my Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Turkey Recipe. This method is derived from Alton Brown’s method of carving a turkey in his Good Eats "Romancing the Bird" episode.
Large serving plate or bowl
Serving plate for cut meat
Meat cutting glove or fork
Place the turkey onto a serving platter or large cutting board.
I like to fully cut up my turkey ahead of time and serve a plate of turkey meat that is separated into dark and white turkey meat. This allows me to eat with everyone else, instead of having to carve the turkey at the beginning.
Alternately, you can also start carving the turkey at the table and then move into the kitchen to finish cutting the turkey.
If you want to initially carve the turkey at the table, place the turkey onto a large serving plate breast side up.
Slice the turkey breast.
Using an electric knife or chef’s knife, place the knife parallel to the table and make a cut at the bottom of the chicken breast at close to the wing as you can going straight inward towards the ribs and gently curve up the side of the wish bone.
Now placing your knife perpendicular to the table, slice off thin slices of turkey breast meat and place onto a serving plate. As you knife reaches the cut that you made when the knife was parallel to the table, the slices will fall off. Use a fork or meat cutting glove to catch the slices as you cut them. Carve only enough meat at the table for a first serving for everyone. Then move the turkey to the kitchen to finish the process.
Cut off one of the turkey leg drum sticks.
Using one hand gently hold the turkey leg away from the turkey. Holding a knife in the other hand, cut the skin and meat between the turkey leg and the rest of the turkey until you reach the joint. Cut into the joint and then using your hand press down on the leg and pop the joint, then continue cutting through the joint and the leg will come off. You can serve the drumstick or leg whole or I like to use a paring knife to cut the meat off of the drumstick. Using my hands, I also pull off any part of the meat on the drumstick that cannot be easily cut off. If carving at the table, leave the drumstick whole for now and just slice the thigh meat parallel to the bone using a chef’s knife or electric knife.
Using an electric knife or chef’s knife, slice the meat off of the thigh part of the turkey. Place the knife parallel to the bone of the thigh and slice the meat off of the thigh.
Back in the Kitchen.
Once back into the kitchen or if you just carve the entire turkey ahead of time in the kitchen, you can carve the remainder of the turkey.
Remove the other turkey leg drumstick and the other thigh.
Cut the turkey leg drumstick and thigh into pieces using a chef’s knife or electric and paring knife and pull remaining meat off of the turkey leg drumstick and thigh using your hands, and place onto a serving platter.
Cut off the other turkey breast. Using an electric knife or chef’s knife, place the knife parallel to the table and make a cut at the bottom of the chicken breast at close to the wing as you can going straight inward towards the ribs and gently curve up the side of the wish bone. Now placing your knife perpendicular to the table, and make 1 slice back toward the rib and slice off the entire turkey breast and place it onto a cutting board.
Now using a paring knife and your hands, carefully remove the remaining meat off of the turkey and place onto a serving plate. It usually takes me about 45 minutes to completely cut up and pull off the turkey meat. That is why I like to have the turkey completely cut before the meal is served.