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Sharp Knife Skills Save Time In The Kitchen

by Alison Stewart
Dec 21, 2008 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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Knife skills instructor Norman Weinstein has as many tips as he does wisecracks. For starters, he suggests upgrading to a larger knife. "Now, the other famous student I had in class was Jimmy Stewart. And when he went from the 8- to the 10-inch knife, do you know what he said? 'It's a wonderful knife,' " puns Weinstein.

Weinstein says using a larger tool will decrease the amount of muscle you have to put into slicing carrots and celery for stew. He also stresses that good technique starts with a relaxed grip, not what he refers to as the "Lady Macbeth school of knife skills."

But the most important step to removing the Shakespearean tragedy from cooking is keeping kitchen knives sharp. "The dull knife is the one that can cut you. It can slip on the skin of an onion or a pepper, anything shiny," Weinstein said. "And it will not cut through; it will slip and maybe cut you."

Weinstein recommends using a sharpening steel on your knives after each use and taking knives to be professionally sharpened every nine months to a year.

So what can you look forward to if you keep your knives well cared for and practice the techniques he gives you? "Your prep time gets cut drastically, so you can enjoy your cooking more," Weinstein said. "In reality, many of the things that people do that take 25 to 30 minutes can be done in 10 or 15."

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