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Confession time: I use terrible knives, and I love them.

I have one proper chef’s knife, which was a gift from a friend. And I will confess that there are some things where that knife will work and nothing else will – peeling winter squash. And… No, that’s the only thing I’ve found so far.

In moderate knives, I also have three different lengths of the standard CutCo serrated knife. I use these on big things. And occasionally to cut fresh meat.

For all other purposes, I use crappy steak knives from K-Mart. They’re awesome. They stay sharp enough for about three years, they don’t lose quality when chucked in a drawer, and it’s like $5 for four of them (note: my memory is not good enough to confirm that the brand linked was the same brand I bought).

And I’ve been putting off this post because it requires talking smack about Target, but since they’ve pissed me off this week, you’re in luck. After I had several years’ worth of joy out of the first set, I tried going to replace them at Target. But their crappy steak knives rust.

So how well do they work?

Great. You know what they’re really good at? Smooth, thin slices of tomato. I know. But the micro-serrations are just the thing for biting into the skin without putting any pressure on the flesh. My mother even raised me to peel tomatoes with a knife, instead of by blanching, and that works just fine with these crappy knives. They fit in the hand well and made quick work of pitting cherries, halving peaches, quartering apples, dicing onions, mincing garlic or ginger, removing the pith from the zest of an orange, and they’re even pretty good at cutting steak. Yes, I’ve used them to cut through slightly frozen meat for slivered stir fry meat and it cuts a great hollow for embedding garlic in a roast.

What it doesn’t do well is speed – it’s going to take more passes and it doesn’t have any weight behind it. It’s also not showy at all.

So aren’t you more likely to cut yourself badly with a crappy knife?

Well, I’ve certainly cut myself, but it’s most often like a nasty papercut – see the part where there’s no weight behind it and your pace is slower. Also, there’s less temptation to do stupid, showy cutting-esque moves when you’re holding a simple knife.

So there.

But feel free to try to convince me otherwise.

4 thoughts on “Knives”

  1. This is a very timely posting. We’re going to be replacing our Henkel knives soon because they are getting dull. I’d love to sharpen then, but they have a fine serration on the edge, so I don’t think it’s possible.

    You might try taking them to a professional knife sharpener?

    No, wait — I looked at the Henckels website, and it looks like you’ve bought the Eversharp Pro set. I gave them a call, and even though their warranty says that they only cover defects, and not regular use, that set is an exception. Because it is advertised as never, ever needing to be sharpened, it is guaranteed as such. You can pack them up and send them back to Henckels and they will probably replace them with sharp ones (though they do have a whole evaluation process).

  2. That’s funny. I have had the exact opposite experience! I grew up helping my mom cook, all the time. We always had the crappy steak knives, plus a few random bread knives floating around. It wasn’t that bad, until I used a real knife. When I went to college I got a job in the dining hall, chopping veggies, with a real knife! I will never turn back. Not ever. Not even once–well, I may revisit it once, just to make certain I’m not crazy, but seriously.

    Anyhoo, I’m happy that you have found a great solution for yourself. Your solution certainly is cheaper than mine–go you!

  3. I thought I was an equal-opportunity knife user. Then I made a batch of pickle relish by hand using my parents’ old, dull knives. Now I take my knives with me when I’ll be cooking outside my own kitchen. Is that bad?

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