Sunday, January 17, 2010

Steeling A Knife


My wife and daughter gave me a new knife for Christmas, a mid-sized blade with scoops just above the edge to prevent buildup as you chop. It's very sharp and fantastic for cutting vegetables. The only downside is that it has to be sharpened with a steel. Normally, I use a knife sharpener, that while not perfect, does a serviceable job.

I've always been somewhat intimidated by a steel. My parents have one that I've used with poor results. I carve and carve and carve and the knife is just as dull as when I started.

But forging ahead is the key to life. So with my new knife beginning to dull, I ventured to the kitchen store in search of a steel. I settled on a 9-inch, mid-priced Wuesthof, $19.95.

For help, I turned to Youtube and found this Gordon Ramsey video. Pretty good. My daughter and I watched and tried. As I did so, I imagined Ramsey screaming at me (No, you stupid idiot! Not good enough! GET OUT!)

This video I liked even better. The chef answers one question I've always had: at what angle should you hold the knife? He says that the shorter the angle, the sharper the edge. So if the knife is dull, start at a wide angle and close it as you work. He also describes how the steel smooths out nicks and gouges in the blade. Very good video.

I started slowly and actually managed to sharpen my new vegetable knife and big kitchen knife. My daughter got an even sharper edge on the paring knives.

Ramsey and the guy in the other video said to sharpen your knives before every use. I will do so from now on. It can't be that hard if I keep at it.

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