Cutting It Down To Size: Tips on selecting your first boning knife
With so many of us eating at home nowadays, it is no wonder people are experimenting more in the kitchen. We all know that chefs are most passionate about their knives. A good chef always has the best knives. With the amount of time you have spent in the kitchen this year, you may be ready to expand your knife collection. So, let’s cut to the chase and get into the meat of the subject--your boning knife.
A good boning knife is essential for a serious chef and can become one of your most favored tools in the kitchen. Unlike the meat cleaver, a boning knife is not built to cut the bones. It is a lighter tool that enables the user to delicately and artfully remove meat from the bones. The meat closest to fat and bones has the best flavor, and a sharp boning knife is a tool needed to ensure that these prime pieces of meat are never wasted. A sharp boning knife allows the cook to clean the bones with its long, narrow reach neatly. Proper use of a high-quality boning knife is crucial to get into this meat without damaging it.
You can choose your boning knife based on the job at hand. Essentially, there are five characteristics for you to consider--blade length, blade material, blade flexibility, blade shape and handle:
Blades of a boning knife are generally anywhere from five to seven inches long. If you are going the whole hog, consider a larger blade to make precision cuts deep into the meat. However, for most household purposes, a six-inch blade is perfect. Blades extending up to nine inches are most frequently used as to fillet fish. If you are slicing along the backbone of an enormous halibut, you’ll need the extension of that long fillet knife. The first cut gets past the skin and then the flat blade, skims across the bones, reaching in deep so that while cutting, you don’t have to hold up that heavy fish for so long. Knives will generally weigh between five and ten ounces. That can make a big difference in your overall comfort. De-boning meat is not a quick process and can be tiresome. A six-inch blade will be less weighty and will provide a nice balance for your palm.
The blade of any good boning knife is typically made of regular steel, carbon steel, or high carbon steel. The carbon steel maintains its sharpness; high carbon steel gives it durability; stainless steel requires less maintenance. A knife with a higher carbon content will help to keep the blade sharper for a longer time. The most important consideration is the sharpness of the blade because it must be capable of slicing through tough ligaments and stubborn connective tissue before removing the meat from the bone with deft accuracy. A dull blade is a dangerous blade.
When the job at hand requires such force, a sharp blade does the job for you. In other words, the task will not be accomplished by sheer force, which puts the cook and the meat at risk. If your blade is dull, chances are, either the chef or the meat could be damaged. A sharp blade slices the meat. A dull blade can rip it. Because of this consideration, a lightweight, high-carbon, stainless steel knife is undoubtedly the material of choice--a tough, durable substance that provides a razor-sharp blade for a longer period.
A boning knife should fit comfortably in your hand and preferably have a blade that reaches through the handle. Blades may be curved or straight.
This choice is a matter of personal preference. If you are filleting fish, you might prefer a blade with a slight curve to it. For de-boning, it is suggested, to begin with a knife having a straight blade that beautifully extends into the handle providing just the right amount of arc at the top.
These beautifully break the drumstick and thigh from the chicken. In order to get into those hard-to-reach places with ease, a sharp, narrow blade is the best choice.
The rigidity of the blade is the main difference between a boning knife and a fillet knife. The blade of a boning knife, with its reasonable amount of stiffness, effortlessly reaches the bone of tougher, red meats. Though not as flexible as a fillet knife, its blade provides the necessary control and bend required to handle chicken or fish. On the other hand, a good fillet knife has far more flexibility, enabling you to feel the texture of the bones like a rippling effect as your knife grazes the boundary between meat and bones. A knife that meets both needs is what every new cook needs to keep on hand. Choose a knife that grants enough lenience to slide between the fish skin and its flesh and is yet stiff enough to pierce into and de-bone a pork shoulder.
Last but not least is the handle. First-time buyers assume that the knife handle is all about aesthetics, but that is simply not true. Handle options are numerous and deserve an article all to themselves. To keep to the point, options include metal, synthetic and natural. Metal handles are the most durable but are often heavy and slippery. Heavy, metal handles can throw off the balance of a good knife, allowing them to slip from your hand. With a wide range of options, synthetic materials are constantly being improved upon by science. Should you decide to choose a synthetic material, look for a water-resistant handle with a good grip made of the most durable substance. Carbon fiber is a good choice. A dense, hardwood is the most popular handle still to this day. It is pleasing to the eye and the most comfortable to hold. It is neither too slippery nor too heavy. There is no concern over it melting. If it gets stained over time, you may re-send it. When selecting your wooden handle, choose one with a close grain that is resistant to water, staining, and contamination.
A six-inch boning knife that balances each of these considerations is most highly recommended for your first purchase. Perhaps you may be tempted to purchase a longer, thinner blade with greater flexibility. This sharp tool may be perfect for filleting your fish with ease. However, its length could get in the way, and its lack of rigidity could work against you if you were de-boning ribs. In that case, you would be better off with a shorter, stronger knife with less flexibility. For a first-time buyer, finding your happy medium results in a win-win situation. A razor-sharp, six-inch boning knife with a moderately flexible blade is an excellent place to start since it can be used for both tasks. A beautiful example of a knife that meets these criteria: can be found at https://imarku.net/.
To the point, a sharp shopper will choose a sensible knife that offers quality, durability, and precision by paying attention to blade material, blade length, blade shape, blade flexibility as well as a quality handle.