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Need paring knife + boning knife recommendations?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I attend culinary classes, and the instructor asked us to bring 3 knives: chef, paring and boning (the rigid type).

We will have reps from Shun and Messermeister stop by and talk knives with us, and offer knives at a discount (I think I heard 25% off).

I already own a chef knife (Togiharu Gyuto Inox 240mm).

The paring knife I'll need real soon, so I'm thinking I might just buy something from one of the reps and take advantage of the discount. I know I could as easily swing by a restaurant supply store and get an inexpensive Forschner or Victorinox, but I would like to have a nice paring knife. Does it make sense to buy a nicer Messermeister or Shun paring knife? I'm hoping to spend $30-50 top.

The boning knife I'll need later on, so I don't have to buy from the reps, although I may want to take advantage of the discount? I've never used a boning knife, and I don't understand their shape. Why the curved bottom where the blade meets the handle? Is it just so they can make the blade narrower while protecting the handle-holding fingers from hitting the board? Does a boning knife need a narrower blade (vs, say, a chef knife)? I suppose that makes sense if you want to turn the knife around as you cut a piece of meat.

So what boning knife? Discounted Messermeister, Discounted Shun, or something else?

I've cooked all my life but I'm new to good knives and to sharpening (using my 1,000 king stone, I've sharpened my chef knife twice).

Any ideas, suggestions, recommendations etc... are welcome! Thanks.
post #2 of 11
Sounds like your all set with your gyuto. For a pairing knife in a working kit I would stick with the Forschner or Victorinox. The pairing knife is the easiest to lose or have take a walk, get dropped in a bin etc. No need to spend a lot on a pairing knife until you know exactly what you want. The Victorinix or Forschners are about as inexpensive ($10-15) as it gets and they perform well for what they are. Later you may want to add a petty in a length you prefer.
I'm not sure I could or would want to get by with out a stiff boning knife. I would lean towards the Messermeister but that's just personal preference. I use a Wusthof Classic stiff boning knife and I like it performs very well.
Shop around on the net before you decide. A discount on a tool that might not be your first choice is no bargain and many dealers sell well below MSRP so the discount may just be a bit of marketing.
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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post #3 of 11
Pettys are in the process of taking over as the "go-to" small knife in a high-end working pro's kit. Other than for a very few, highly specialized tasks, knives under 4" are primarily useful for opening packages and cutting string.

You get more utility out of them than from a shorter paring knife. But school said "paring knife," so a paring knife it must be.

The fact that you speak French makes it so easy to designate the different shapes just by name. Muchas gracias, as you people say. In US "cuisine-speak" the most common shapes from a few decades ago are associated with their generic French names. For instance, even though a "regular" paring knife and a "bird's beak" would each be couteau office, in an American kitchen snobbish enough to use a lot of French, the term is limited to the regular, while the latter is bec de oiseau. Nach einem Befehl?

Forschner
-- Too soon to pay more. Don't let them BS into you thinking that a paring knife is a "lifetime" investment. If you use it a lot, you'll sharpen it down to a toothpick within a couple of years; and if you dont use it that much -- why invest in something expensive?

Anyway, if you can afford it, get three Forschner paring knives now: A couteau office (regular shape), either 3-1/4 or 4"; a pied de mouton (aka "sheep's foot"); and a bec de oiseau ("tourne knife" in Franglais, and "curved peeling knife" or "bird's beak" in English). Get them all in Forschner Fibrox -- which run about $6 each at Cutlery and More. If that seems like too much, just get the couteau office for now.

But, why all? Well, the tourne helps with a couple of those very special situations -- cutting curved shapes, or peeling small, curved vegetables. People who rest their thumbs on the spine for paring tasks find the pied de mouton more comfortable and safe than the ordinarty couteau office. The thing is, they're so cheap you can afford to fool around with them when the instructor isn't looking -- or in subsequent classes.

Speaking of which, you'll probably end up with the Togiharu or some other decent petty, but wait until you're out of the class. It's always best to fly under the radar at first as far as equipment s concerned.

The boning knife the school wants you to buy, a straight, desosseur pattern, has been overtaken by curved patterns and pettys to the point where it's become a highly specialized tool. It does only one restaurant kitchen type of task better than a petty, and is significantly more difficult to sharpen. Even professional butchers who use boning knives for a lot of tasks, don't use the old, straight desosseur.

What the knife does do is go deep into a piece of meat and allow the user to trace a bone with the tip, getting up to all sorts of angles at the handle (because of all the radius on the tip), and turn the knife in the cut to follow difficult shapes -- like where the leg goes into the hip.

What they don't do any better than a petty is separate chicken pieces, debone a thigh or breast, trim, portion, or almost all of the other myriad tasks you'll be taught to perform.

What's wrong with them is that they're hard to sharpen -- especially the stiff ones. The spines are so stiff and the profile so narrow, it's hard to set up a thin edge and keep it that way. Unfortunately, a boning knife requires a lot of sharpening; not only because it hits bone so often but also because red meat is very fibrous and tough on edges.

Well, so what? You're going to buy a stiff, straight desosseur because they told you to. Let's just get down to it.

Forschner -- 6" Fibrox Straight Boning Knife . They're not only cheaper, they're better than the Messers because they're stamped and easier to sharpen. The Shun boning knife is actually decent -- and not impossible to sharpen -- but it's too expensive for what it actually does and until you decide whether or not it's the right shape for you. Besides, as always with Shun, there are better for less.

There's are good reasons nearly every butcher uses Forschner or Dexter -- and you might as well do as the pros do -- in this case it not only works better, it's easiest on your wallet.

Speaking of Dexter, they're nothing to sneer at -- especially the pro lines, and double especially the butchers' profiles. As I said, along with Forschner, they are the butcher standard.

Wrapping it up:

As to any profile: Both manuracturers certainly make knives which in the greater scheme should be rated as "very good" at least. But, considering the alternatives, neither Messer nor Shun is worth the investment. Personally, if for some unimaginable reason I really wanted a German knife, I'd rate Messermeister as good as any other brand; but, if I wanted a Japanese knife, Shun wouldn't even make the list.

Last word: 20% discount on Shun and Messer is nothing. Rien. You can bet better prices at plenty of brick and mortars in the LA area -- not to mention online.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #4 of 11
BDL, can I borrow a screen wipe? I seem to have spit coffee all over my monitor.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #5 of 11
Jim,

But of course.

BDL
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post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
OK thanks, great advice. I think I'm going to make a stop at the restaurant supply store!
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
I got the 4" Victorinox (apparently Forschner's new name) "regular" paring knife ($5). Worked great. I was able to peel a tomato without blanching it (to make pretty roses, yeaaahee). Right now I don't think I need the bec d'oiseau or the pied de mouton. I think I'll get the Victorinox boning knife as per your suggestion when the protein classes come up.

Danke sehr! :thumb:
post #8 of 11
for what its worth, i went with a Shun Classic paring knife... I tried out the "Alton's Angle" version and it was nice, but I preferred the original one. it was far better than the so called "Perfect Paring Knife" though... which resembles a pocket knife. i also had access to the rest of the Shun line, but I'm not spending over $100 on a paring knife. (they were nice, though) this was an upgrade from the cheap plastic handled Messermeister's which are not only dull but uncomfortable to hold. after a night of doing tourne's and cutting myself, i was just too afraid to try anything cheap again, so i kind of went overboard... but its worth it since i use it a lot.

for a cheap, but good knife, it seems Victorinox is the way to go... I have a Victorinox Scimitar and a Forschner Flexible Filet Knife that work great. my boning knife is a cheap Messermeister and luckily it works fine. i don't break down proteins all day, so its more than adequate.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
I ended up buying another 4" Victorinox, exactly the same, so now I have two. I love the knife. My wife loves it too, she wondered why I didn't buy three rather than just two.

I also ended up buying the 6" rigid Victorinox boning knife, which is the sharpest knife I've ever owned. Which makes me feel horrible because it only goes to show me how useless I am at sharpening (I'm sure my Gyuto should be at least as sharp as that, but currently it's not).
post #10 of 11
FF,

The Tog Inox can be made sharper than a Victorinox/Forschner, hold the edge better, and hold a better polish as well.  But Forschners do come sharper out of the box -- so until you get the hang of sharpening, you won't be able to make a real comparison.

BDL
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post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

The Tog Inox can be made sharper than a Victorinox/Forschner, hold the edge better, and hold a better polish as well.  But Forschners do come sharper out of the box -- so until you get the hang of sharpening, you won't be able to make a real comparison.

Makes a lot of sense, obviously. For now, that'll give me a milestone to learn to sharpen.
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