I am a kitchen gadget fanatic and I’m not ashamed to say it.
Having the right tools in hand can allow you to do many different things. It’s not enough just to have them though, knowing how to use them properly can make you more efficient and do more tasks that can save you money. Most people have one of these beauties on their counter these days, more often than not people use it for show and just grab the first thing their hand lands on.
Knives are designed with a specific purpose in mind, the blade, the grip, etc are all with your hand in mind while you’re doing the task at hand while giving the right cutting surface for what you’re working on. For example, a filet knife is thin and flexible for bending so that it can get as close to the fish skin as possible without leaving meat on the skin. A chef’s knife is a great all-purpose knife with a sharp edge – perfect from slicing the most delicate tomato to chopping carrots. A great test to check the sharp edge on a knife is to cut a tomato, it should take no pressure at all to pierce the skin. If you have to saw back & forth it’s time to sharpen your knife.
A bread knife always has a serrated (or toothed edge) blade so it can dig into the crustiest of breads without having to press down or flatten the bread. A smooth blade can slide across a denser crust forcing you to press down on the knife to begin the cutting. On the rare occasion I go to a sandwich shop I’m always regretting not bringing a knife and a handy video to demonstrate this. It never fails, they pull out this beautiful loaf from the oven and then mash it down when they cut it. It kills me every time.
I have 5 knives that I use almost daily: a Chef’s knife, a vegetable cleaver/Chinese Chopper, a bread knife, a carving knife (it was my Mom’s and it’s amazingly sharp) and a paring knife. That’s it. I have my blade sharpener and I’m ready to go.
If you’re new in the kitchen or just want to see how your skills compare, here’s a video on basic knife skills.
If you watch the cooking shows, you’ll see a lot of great techniques in action. I’m a huge fan of the ones that explain and educate the audience as they go. You never know when you’ll pick up something new. I learned a much better way to remove an avocado pit from Bobby Flay a while back (thanks Bobby!) by giving it a solid whack with my chef’s knife then turning it as if the knife was a screwdriver and the pit is a screw. Comes right out, every time.
I know, I said about saving money and you’re wondering how, right?
If you’re unfamiliar or just normally don’t shop for these due to the cost, check out the prices of boneless pork chops the next time you go to your grocery store. They’re sometimes called “America’s Cut” pork chops.
In my area those pork chops average around $5 a pound and rarely if ever go on sale. Ever wonder where they come from? Look for whole or half pork tenderloin. Not those dinky, overpriced little pieces of marinated meat, but the ones that are the size of a baby to a toddler. Literally. If you’re unsure, ask the person at the meat counter to show you. They’ll show you where they live in the meat case or bring one out from the back.
Now, look what I paid for it…
If you have a Sam’s Club membership, they almost always have full tenderloin around this price per pound. I’ve never seen them higher than $2.23 a pound. They’re generally as long as your leg and worth every penny. Great for stocking your freezer at a great price.
Out of this tenderloin, I cut 12 hearty 1/2-inch thick chops. As you can see on the chops in the upper left corner, there is a bit more marbling at the end. I saved the end, about 3/4 pound, which I’m going to mince up and use for fried rice later on.
Because it is boneless you can do what you want… chops, roasts, fajita strips. And you can cut your chops as thin or thick as you prefer or even butterfly them for stuffing. I will usually alternate between chops and roasts so I have a good rotation of both. Then put it in Ziploc freezer bags, date & freeze! If you prefer, you can put marinade right in the bag with the meat saving you time later on (really awesome for fajitas).
Good quality meat, cheaper than what you’d pay for bone in chops and no waste. This is a frugal win saving $3 per pound on meat and all for the low, low cost of 5 minutes of my time and a sharp knife. You’re going to eat well and save hundreds of dollars on your annual grocery bill.