18-3: Good Kitchen Knives

It’s a new year, and it’s also been a long time since I’ve covered any of the Cooking School portion of the back of the Simply Delicious cookbook. One of the featured topics is 18-3: Good Kitchen Knives, essential tools for any cook. I’ve had a lot of terrible knives, and I’ve got a long way to go until I make jaws drop with my knife collection, but I’ve got a few that are not too shabby. 🔪

I’m going to try NOT to make this a “look at all my cool knives” kind-of-a-thing, because honestly, my collection isn’t all that Internet-impressive–I don’t have a ton of trendy Japanese pieces or massive cleavers, because I just don’t cook that way too often. Plus, I feel about knives like I feel about cars–give me a broken-in cheap old workhorse over a shiny speedster you’re afraid to scratch up any day of the week. 🚙

This is my knife roll–I keep most of my favorite knives in here and take it with me when I cook in other people’s kitchens or sometimes to work. I used to take it with me every day when I worked in a restaurant, but I don’t do it as much now that I have a different kind of cooking job where I don’t need as many of these type of tools every day.

In the front pockets, I keep a bag full of first aid supplies (including finger cots–the small blue condom-looking things), a bag of pens/sticky notes, and a bag of small cooking tools (like toothpicks, measuring spoons, and small scrapers). I also keep a small notebook with a lot of different recipes (some adapted, some my own), a bigger notepad for making prep lists, and a bottle of liquid bandage. 💉

Good knives: Inside, I have a few different types of paring knives, a brush/spatula/chopstick set, my chef’s knife, a long serrated knife and a smaller slicer knife. In this post, I’ll go into a bit more detail on some of these types, as well as some others.

Simply Delicious mentions that hardwood handles are the best–I have a few hardwood handled-knives (some of which are absolutely my favorites), but they’re a bit more work to keep clean and safe in the kitchen than their plastic or metal counterparts. 🗡

Chef’s knife: This is my current and favorite chef’s knife, and it was a hand-me-down from my mom. It came from a set of Chicago Cutlery knives that would be about 40ish years old at this point. It’s definitely not the fanciest knife or the absolute sharpest, but it’s been a GOOD knife and I’ll keep on using it (even if I eventually get some other additional knives).

Serrated knives: I labeled the knives in the pictures with multiple pieces to make it easier to refer to them. While not my only serrated knives, these ones probably get the most use. (B) Offset Bread is the best for sandwiches, and (C) Long Serrated/Bread is my favorite type for cutting bread loaves/bagels in half or slicing a cooked chicken breast in a nice pattern to fan it out.

(A) Short Serrated from the picture above the card doesn’t get a whole lot of use by me, but Simply Delicious shows it in the card here as essentially an all-purpose knife that makes nice patterns on firm vegetables like carrots and zucchini. If I ate more carrots and zucchini, I could probably attest to that.

Paring knife: I don’t just have one paring knife–I have many. These four are my favorites–3 of them came from the same pack of knives that I bought in the supermarket for $10. (A) CC Paring is from the same Chicago Cutlery set that my chef’s knife came from as well. I linked to a current-day set that you can buy that are technically named Chicago Cutlery, but the quality is reportedly terrible and nowhere near the quality of the old original Made-in-USA stuff.

Don’t waste your money–get quality stuff if you’re looking for new knives, and paring knives are NOT one of the ones you should spend a lot of money on–you’ll end up replacing/losing them a few times no matter what. The other three knives (B), (C), (D) are 3 differently shaped types of paring knives that come packaged together, available everywhere. I had bought a set for my station when I worked at the restaurant, and later on bought a second set for my knife roll when I left most of those originals behind.

Special knives: I have a few scant others not pictured here, but this gives a pretty good idea of what you could use some of these for. (A) CC Slicer is my third and final piece of that original Chicago Cutlery set, and I like to use it for slicing meat, thick vegetables, or anything where I need more heft than a paring knife but more precision than a chef’s knife. (B) Boning is a boning knife that I picked up on a recent restaurant supply store run–it’s sharp as hell and does a great job taking apart a roast chicken or turkey. 🍗

(C) Med. Slicer and (D) Short Santoku are part of the same OXO knife set I picked up to replace an even worse IKEA knife set that I had previous to that. The knives that are part of that set (which includes the Short Serrated knife from a few pictures up) get the job done, but are more of the “house knives” as opposed to “my knives”.

The Slicer (C) is good for large boneless roasts or anything where it’s more about thin slices than negotiating around obstacles (like bones). The Santoku (D) has what’s called a granton edge, which makes it easier to cut through things without the item sticking to the knife. My Long Meat Slicer (E) also has that granton edge for BIG meat slicing (obviously, given the name), while the Santoku (D) is more similar to a chef’s knife–you can use it for multiple things without having the food stick to the blade (try it on things like cheese or potatoes). 🍠