In this section we show you how to choose the best knife for your cooking so you can chop ingredients easily and quickly. We also show you how to chop popular ingredients like onions, carrots etc
Types of knives
A good, basic set of knives is a must, even for the smallest kitchen or the most infrequent cook. Good knives will make food preparation faster and easier and the best will last for many years.
To start with, for your kitchen kit all you need is the chef’s and paring knife, but do put the carving knife and fork and the bread knife on your Christmas or birthday present list too as they are always tools that will be beneficial in your kitchen.
Carving knife and Fork
A knife with a long narrow blade that is suitable for slicing roasted meat. A carving fork has two long prongs to secure the joint during carving. It should have a good grip and may be fitted with a guard to protect your hand.
Also known as a chef’s knife. This knife has a long wide blade that ranges in length (from 15-30cm). The edge is slightly curved for easier chopping.
This is shaped like a cook’s knife but the blade is only 6-9cm long. It is a very useful knife in the kitchen and because of its size it’s ideal for cutting fresh fruits and vegetables.
Bread or serrated knife.
This knife has a serrated or scalloped edge and is ideal for slicing crusty bread and cakes evenly without tearing or squashing the soft centre. This knife is also great for slicing through delicate fruit like tomatoes.
How to use your knives
Carving joints of meat
Carving joints can be a mystery to some, but once you have mastered a few essentials it can be really easy.
Invest in a good carving knife and fork set, and ensure they are sharp before you carve your joint. This will make carving easier and the blade will slice through the meat rather than tear at the meat fibres. For information on how to sharpen your carving knife, log on to www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk/carving
How to carve a leg of lamb
First place the joint on a carving board with the meatier side of the leg facing upwards and the carving fork placed firmly in the narrow end of the joint.
Begin by carving a narrow wedge-shaped or ‘V’ cut piece from the middle of the leg.
Following the angle of the ‘V’ carve the lamb down to the bone and lift out the slices.
Try not to carve too thinly, but aim for about 5mm thick.
Continue to carve slices of the leg on both sides of the ‘V’ cut.
Carry on until all the meat is removed from the bone.
Using a clean tea towel to hold the bone, turn the joint over and cut horizontal slices away from you.
A delicious plateful of roast lamb ready
How to chop an onion into dice
To chop an onion into small pieces for including in dishes like our 5by25 spaghetti bolognese follow the instructions below:
1. Put the onion on a chopping board and with a sharp cook’s knife cut off the top leaving the bottom root in place.
2. Turn the onion flat side down, place the blade in the centre of the root and slice downwards. Then remove the brown papery skin from each half
3. Place the onion half on the chopping board, flat side down. Next, cut the onion vertically from the root end that you have left on the onion to hold it together. Space the cuts to the size of pieces you want i.e. if you want small pieces make the cuts close together or if you want chunks keep make the cuts wide apart. Make sure you keep your fingers behind the blade of the knife, slice down vertically to avoid cutting yourself.
Next turn the onion around and cut horizontally across the onion, working your way from the cut end through to the root end of the onion. If you are right-handed you should have the root on the left or if you are left-handed it should be placed on the right.
If you want to chop an onion into rings or moon shape slices cut off the root and the top of the onion and then peel it.
For rings, cut in whole round slices in the thickness you require or if you want slices, first slice the onion in half from top to bottom then place the flat surface on the chopping board and cut into slices 5mm thick from one end of the onion to the other.