Basic Knives and Their Uses
Paring Knife: There are four common styles of paring knives: bird's beak, sheep's foot, clip point, and spear point. A bird's beak or sheep's foot is used for delicate pepper rings finely sliced, or slivered olives or cherries. A clip point is used for eyeing potatoes, seeding, peeling, and pitting. A spear point can be used to remove corn from the cob, break up heads of lettuce or cabbage, peel fruit or vegetables, cut beans, etc.
Utility Knife: A sharp 4-6" utility knife is most efficient for slicing non-solid fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes or squash. For acidic fruits, a stainless steel blade is preferred. A utility knife is useful for cutting large melon rings, cutting heads of lettuce into wedges, preparing cabbage for shredding, halving citrus oranges, etc.
Boning Knife: Many cooks use a 5" to 8" boning knife to simplify carving and get extra servings by boning out a roast when it is partially cooked. For boning roasts, whole hams, lamb legs, veal legs, and filleting fish, a narrow flexible blade is best. The wider stiff blade is used for cutting raw meat and many other trimming operations on less thick cuts of meat.
Butcher, Cimeter, and Cleaver: The butcher and cimeter knives can be used for dicing salt pork, cubing cooled meats, cutting steaks, or trimming raw meat. Many cooks use the narrow cimeter for fish filets. The cleaver is used for opening lobsters, cutting poultry, and joints.
Chef's Knife: The 6" to 12" chef's knife has more uses than any other single knife in the kitchen. The blade is wide at the handle and tapers to a point. The wide design protects knuckles when dicing or mincing celery, onions, nut meats, parsley, peppers, etc. This knife is used for carving hot roasts as well.
Slicers and Carvers: The most important carving knife is the roast beef slicer, most often used to carve rounds, boneless roasts, boiled briskets, pot roasts, butt roasts, and standing rib roasts. The narrow meat slicer is used to slice ham, fish, or leftover cold roasts of all kinds. The wide, stiff blade does a better job on hot meats, whereas the narrow, more flexible blade cuts cold meat and fish more efficiently.
Serrations (Wavy Edge): The serrated edge knife is traditionally used to cut an item with a crust or skin which is soft on the inside such as bread or a tomato.
Granton Edge: The grooves on the side of the blade fill with the fat and juices of the product being sliced, allowing for thin and even cuts without tearing or shredding the meat. This knife is also good for fish, keeping the fish from sticking to the knife.