Finding a Carving Knife

The Feral Irishman had a most up the other day asking for comments on decent cooking knives. The results are here.

The series got me thinking that I plan on roasting some beasts for Christmas dinner, and I may need a new carving knife. Hell, I’m a guy. Any excuse, right?

I have a cheapie round-nosed carving knife with a tiny handle, that I can never find when it’s time to carve a roast beast. Usually I’ll use my Henkels 8″ chef or my Wusthof boning knife for the task. They both are super sharp, but not really the tool for the job. The chef knife has a lot of surface area, and drags a bit.

The results were interesting. Reasonably high on the list was Chicago Cutlery. There was some chatter on Old Hickory, so I went to the site and picked up a couple.

They are a little thick, and the edge looks like it was ground with a bench grinder. When I used one of them, I cleaned it and put it in the rack to dry. This happened:

What the hell?

Damn thing rusted right up. Apparently, you should oil them like a carbon steel pan. Still, I usually sharpen all my knives for the holidays, so I’d be hitting these hard with the stones anyway. Out of the box, they aren’t impressive.

Meantime, I had to help at the church cooking dinner and the dude running it said, “Hey, can you carve the hams?”

Why yes. Yes I can.

So I rooted through the knife drawer and happened upon a Dexter butcher knife that was decently sharp. It made short work of those hams and I thought, damn, I need one of these. So I got one.

A butcher knife

The Old Hickory knifes were under $20. This one, about $30. It’s edge was sharp, but still rough as the others. So I got to work and sharpened all the knives in preparation for the big day. All were very, very sharp when I was done.

As I figured, the Old Hickory blades worked OK, but still a little tough. The butcher knife handled just like it did with the hams. Smooth, easy slicing. Easy to handle.

This got me to thinking. The chef knife I probably use the most, after my Henkels 6″ chef is an 8″ chef by Victorinox (the swiss army folks) that I picked up to see if I liked it enough to spring for a big Henkels. Why? Mostly because it lives in the drawer under the counter, as opposed to the wall where the others are hanging. So it’s handy. It’s also light, easy to handle, and super sharp.

I think I paid $36.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Henkels knives. I’ve had the 6″ chef for 30 years and it’s still sharp as a razor. But there’s something to be said about a knife that performs as well for a fraction of the price. Like the commenter in the blog post said, Look for NSF certification. You can find these at any restaurant supply store.

One thought on “Finding a Carving Knife

  1. I’ve had some Old Hickory knives since the early 90’s and they’re still going strong but you are right, they do need a little bit of babying. I never soak them, I wipe the blade immediately after use, then dry immediately after cleaning. They need sharpening once in a while but not often, a standard whetstone does the trick. They are my favorites even though they are a tad persnickety. I hope you find enjoyment out of them eventually!

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