For example, and somewhat paradoxically, a blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. It will skid off instead of cutting through and invariably it will skid into the user’s fingers, creating a nasty tear wound needing a bit more than TCP to put right.
The second most likely cause of injury is using the wrong knife for the job in hand. There’s a reason why there are so many shapes and sizes of knives on the market, it’s because each has developed over time to be perfect for specialised work.
ProCook® make an impressive range of knives, not only in variety but in prices too so that any home cook can build up a decent collection without breaking the bank. They sent over a selection for us to try and we put them up against the Japanese masters Global on the one hand and Sabatier , the historic champions on the other.
Now we love a Global. It has the delicate balanced feel of a Samurai sword, is ultra modern in looks and made from one piece of quality metal and nothing else. It cuts through jobs like Uma Thurman cuts through bad guys but there’s no getting around the fact that Globals are very pricey Sabatier, the iconic brand, has been around a while and looks it. One piece of metal with the grips riveted to the full ‘tang’, which is the continuation of the metal of the blade. This full tang makes the knives balanced and gives them real heft in the hand, Beware of knives that don’t have a full tang, they won’t deliver what we cooks want. You can see the tang sandwiched between the handles and it should be a decent thickness, as it is on the ProCook®s
ProCook® knives bear a close resemblance to Sabatier , with full thick tangs, but are a lot less pricey. Our favourite of the samples was the X50 PrecisionVegetableKnife (£20.00), known as a Nakiri in Japan. It has an oversized blade that lets you move fast and safely when chopping and slicing, and instead of coming to a point it has a squared off end with a slight curve that allows you to rock the blade up and down easily. X50 is one of ProCook® ‘s professional high end styles with Mikarta – a special resin – being used for the handles and a higher grade German hand ground steel for the blades. Bolsters on the handles also improve balance. Three rivets on the handles suggest the 10 year guarantee won’t be needed.
We also liked the X30 Paringknife (£6.00) a neat little knife that sat well in the hand and was useful for all kinds of fiddly jobs. X30 means the blade has slightly less carbon than the X50s making it a little less hard. Not really something the home cook is going to notice except in the very long run.
Slightly larger was the X50 Utilityknife, (£12.00) another good all rounder as the name suggests but less impressive was the X30 Breadknife (£8.00). Nicely rigid and with teeth like a Great White, it still had problems delivering a nice clean straight cut from a loaf. Oddly enough, our cheapo bread knife, now ten years old, may flex like a willow tree in the wind but it still cuts great. Possibly we needed more practice with the X30 but on the plus side it was perfect for slicing tomatoes, which always slice best when you use a serrated knife.
Finally the X30 Carvingset (£16.00) came to table. There is something deliciously Dickensian about standing with carving knife and fork in hand as an expectant family looks on, and its embarrassing to hack and tear with the wrong tools. The X30 did a great job on the beef one week and the chicken the next, the fork gave a great steady hold on the meat and the long bladed knife swished through with ease.
Don’t forget to invest in a decent wooden knife block, or better still a magnet strip holder at the same time. Nothing blunts a knife faster than knocking about in a cutlery drawer and it’s not safe practice either.
And if you get the knives, get the book. KnifeSkills written by two Michelin-starred chefs, Marcus Wareing and Shaun Hill, Charlie Trotter, and Lyn Hall from the La Petite Cuisine School of Cooking. It’s an indispensable read for how to choose, handle and use knives to get the best out of them in all situations.