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All About Knives

How to pick the right cutting tools -- and make the most of them

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In many ways, good cooking comes down to knives: choosing the right kind, keeping them sharp, and using them well. So we’ve pulled together some of our best advice on buying and using your knives, to make you a better cook. The first step, of course, is buying. Knives may be the backbone of your kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you need a lot of them. In fact, you can be equipped for nearly every task with just three essential knives. The workhorse of these three is the chef’s knife, so we devote extra time to making sure you find the one that’s right to you. Once you’ve got the basics covered, check out our favorite specialty knives if you want to round out your collection.

Bonus videos

Once you have great knives, you want to take good care of them. You don’t need to sharpen your knife as often as you might think, but it does need regular honing. In our bonus videos, Institute of Culinary Education chef-instructor Norman Weinstein demonstrates the proper way to hone your knife on a steel, as well as sharpen it on a stone.

Hone your knife skills — with delicious recipes

Knife skills are like scales in music: fundamentals that are maybe a bit dull on their own, but once you have them down solid, you’ll be much faster and more efficient. Of course, you’d never practice knife skills just for the sake of practicing — you want to eat the results! That’s why we’ve paired each or our essential knife skills here with a recipe that calls upon that skill.

Skill: Bone a chicken breast
Recipe: Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Prosciutto, Parmesan and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Skill: Cut a chicken into parts
Recipe: Braised Mediterranean Chicken

Skill: Slice chicken cutlets 
Recipe: Chicken Piccata with Fried Capers

Skill: Trim a pork tenderloin
Recipe: Pork Tenderloin Grilled in Rosemary Leaves

Skill: Cut a chiffonade of basil
Recipe: Deconstructed Pesto Pasta

Skill: Dice an onion (bonus video)
Recipe: Warm Potato Salad with Bacon, Apples & Rosemary

Skill: Julienne a carrot
Recipe: Mediterranean Carrot Salad

Skill: Julienne or dice a pepper
Recipe: Pineapple Salsa with Radishes, Peppers & Cilantro

Skill: Segment citrus fruit (video)
Recipe: Romaine Salad with Hearts of Palm

Skill: Seed and dice tomatoes
Recipe: Bruschetta with Tomatoes, Garlic & Basil

Skill: Chop and slice fresh herbs (video)
Recipe: Chimichurri

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