So you bought a kitchen knife set, huh? And you notice a rather long and thin-looking fella among them. That, my friend, is the boning knife. Many home cooks use them incorrectly or even ignore their existence. But did you know that boning knives uses are quite essential in kitchen?
It’s a versatile and essential kitchen tool that you can rely on when preparing meals. From deboning meat to carving fruits, we list the top 5 boning knife uses that you probably didn’t know about. Who knew you could use it too when making sweet treats?
What is a boning knife?
A boning knife, as you can probably tell, is specifically designed for deboning meat or fish. It features a long and thin blade with a sharp tip for cutting through ligaments and connective tissues to remove meat from the bone.
“Isn’t a boning knife the same as a fillet knife?”
While these two knives are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same tool. A fillet knife is mainly used to separate the flesh from the bone and remove the skin of more delicate meats, whereas a boning knife is helpful for various purposes other than cutting meat.
Nothing is more infuriating than having to leave juicy morsels of meat on the bone because you can’t cut them off. If you don’t use the right tool, you’ll leave the meat’s flavorful piece to the bones.
Here, I’ve listed the top 5 boning knife uses, how to choose a good boning knife, how to use it, and how to care for it. So, let’s get started!
How to choose a good boning knife?
Before we jump to the many uses of a boning knife, it’s essential to know what to look for in a boning knife. Choosing a boning knife largely depends on the meat you will be handling. When selecting a good boning knife, you must consider the type of blade, the size of the knife, and the type of its handle.
A boning knife will have either a stiff or flexible blade. Stiff blades are suited for large and thick pieces of meat like pork, beef, or lamb where you need to apply extra force. Whereas, flexible blades are made of softer steel and easily bend around the bone for extracting meat and cutting soft tissues and fat. It’s also perfect for Intricate tasks requiring mastery, such as cutting around lighter corners and complicated shapes of meat
Traditionally, the blade of a boning knife is 5 to 6 inches long, with some as long as 9 inches. It is typically narrow and pointed, and it comes in a variety of shapes and styles.
- Curved blade -Curved boning knives are have many additional uses. The blades are ideal for swiping through the skin and flesh of a fish. It’s also perfect for delicate tasks like filleting meat. You can easily maneuver around small spaces and fat layers when using a curved boning knife.
- Straight blade– Straight blades are ideal for separating large pieces of meat from the bone and are used for fine sculpting and slicing.
- Thin blade – Thin blades experience less resistance when cutting through meat making them ideal for extremely delicate cuts. This is better for deboning meat with limited space, and it’s also great for trimming sinews and layers of fat.
- Broad blade – Broad blades are sturdy and wide, making them ideal for big tasks like cutting through thick cuts of meat.
The size of the boning knife depends on the type of meat being cut. Traditional boning knives are 5 to 6 inches long, with some reaching as long as 9 inches.
Longer-bladed boning knives are more of a specialty item and are used to cut broad cuts of meat. If you’re removing bone from delicate cuts, you might want to use a smaller blade.
The handle is an important part of a boning knife. It needs to be comfortable in your hand when you need extreme or minimal force when bearing down on the meat.
- Wood – Boning knives with wooden handles are durable and stylish. If you’re worried that wooden knife handles will rot, don’t be. The wood used to make knife handles nowadays is water resistant. You just need to oil them up after uses.
- Metal- Metal handles are rigid, but some people find them cold and have a less secure grip because they can slip as you work.
- Synthetic materials – Coatings are applied to polypropylene handles to improve the user’s grip.
The blade material
The blade of a boning knife is made of various types of steels such as cold steel, stainless, tempered, and high carbon.
High carbon blades are very sharp, while stainless steel blades are stain and rust-resistant. But, all these types provide enough durability and sharpness to suit your deboning needs.
Like any other product, the price of a boning knife depends on the quality, size, length, or purpose. There are boning knives that are sold in sets of 3 or more, so the prices vary.
The price of boning knives ranges from $20 to $130.
How to use a boning knife
Before we get into the various boning knife uses, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of how to use one so you can get the most out of your boning knife.
Holding the knife
First, wrap your middle, ring, pinky fingers, and thumb around the handle for a secure grip. Then, your index finger should go on top of the blade to stabilize its movements.
Make small incisions in the meat with the pointy tip of the boning knife. Use the length of the sharp blade to your advantage as well to make consistent cuts. Sawing motions can also be used to cut through thick chunks of meat.
While slicing, turn the meat in a way that is comfortable for you. It is the meat that should be adjusted, not your hand or your boning knife.
Take advantage of the sharp pointy end of your boning knife to cut through the meat. When breaking down a chicken, you can also use it to slide through the meat’s membranes, which will help you maneuver through the entire chicken.
Use your hands
To successfully debone the meat, you must use your hands too. This is important when breaking down a chicken with a lot of bones. Snap the bones off with your hands to loosen them, and then use the boning knife to remove the bones.
For a step-by-step guide to breaking down a chicken. Check out knife guru Chef Norman Weinstein’s knife skills tutorial here.
Top 5 uses of a boning knife with comprehensive guide
And now, we’ve arrived at the section where the boning knife gets some action. As previously stated, boning knives have many uses in the kitchen. I’ve listed the top five uses of a boning knife along with a comprehensive guide to ensure you’re using your boning knife to its full potential. So, let us get started.
Removing bone from meat
First, lay the meat on the cutting board. Make sure that your cutting board has enough working space.
Second, locate the bones of the meat. You will be able to feel the bones by pressing with your thumb. You can also cut a piece of skin from meat or fat to see them.
Then, run the tip of your boning knife along the outline of the bone to make a shallow but precise incision into the meat.
Finally, insert the blade of the boning knife into the incision you made earlier. Then, make long and smooth strokes to pull the meat from the bone. Use the blade to scrape the flesh from the bone so that no meat goes to waste.
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Separating skin from meat
First, place the meat on the cutting board and locate where the layer of skin starts and ends.
Second, using the tip of your boning knife, make a small incision as close to the meat as possible to avoid wastage. You should cut out a small flap of skin, which will help you in the next step.
Then, carefully hold the flap of skin and run the blade through it. Make a sawing motion with your boning knife until the skin is completely separated from the meat. Make sure that you angle your boning knife to the way the skin is curved.
Separating skin from fish fillets
Yes, you can use a boning knife on fish. Although a boning knife isn’t the same as a fish fillet knife, you can still use it for this purpose.
Place the fish, skin side down, on the cutting board. Make sure the tail, or the thinnest part of the fillet, is closest to you.
Next, make a small incision about one to two inches between the flesh and the skin in the thinnest part of the fish to serve as your grip, using the tip of your boning knife. For larger fish, make a hole in the skin and insert your finger to gain more leverage.
Once your knife is underneath the meat at about a 15-20-degree angle, take the skin but not pull it up because it will crush the meat. Just make slow sawing motions using the boning knife.
Continue cutting until the skin is completely separated from the fillet.
Carving fruits and vegetables
Since boning knives have sharp tips and flexible blades, you can use them to carve fruits and vegetables. The boning knife’s small blade makes it easy to prepare fresh fruit and decorative arrangement.
You can also use your boning knife to peel fruits. Just slide the blade under the skin and move the fruit as necessary to peel the skin from the fruit.
Yes, you read that right! You can use your boning knife when baking sweet treats. The boning knife’s thin blade and sharp tip are ideal for precisely carving cakes into your desired shapes.
The boning knife is also helpful in filling cupcakes. First, make sure that your cupcake has thoroughly cooled. Carve a small hole into the center of the cupcakes with the thin and pointed blade, about 3/4 deep. Then, add the filling using the filling bag.
You can also cut cookie dough into different shapes with your boning knife. The boning knife is sharp enough to cut through the dough without causing it to tear.
Boning knife care after uses
Always wash your boning knife immediately after every use. To remove debris, clean it with warm soapy water and a cloth, or use a gentle brush if necessary. Then, using a towel, wipe it down and dry it. Then wipe and dry it with a towel. Make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back in the drawer.
Also, be careful when washing knives with wooden handles because the water can warp wooden handles, seep into cracks, and deteriorate chromium coating that protects against rust.
Like any other knife, your boning knife will become dull over time due to regular use. To sharpen your boning knife, you can use home sharpeners or professional sharpening services.
If you want to sharpen your boning knife at home, you can do so with a whetstone. However, familiarize yourself with the specifications of your knife to determine the grit of the whetstone to use. Before you begin sharpening, you should first determine the size of the whetstone to be used. This is because it will damage your cooking tools if you try to sharpen your knife with the wrong whetstone. The whetstone’s grit size refers to the size of the abrasive particles in the stone.
A coarse whetstone with a grit range of #1000 or less has larger particles that create a rougher surface. This is used for thorough and aggressive sharpening. You can use this for extremely dull blades or damaged blades with nicks and chips.
If you need to sharpen dull knives and regain their edge, use a whetstone with a grit of (#1000-#3000) or Medium Stones. But, you shouldn’t use this too often as it will wear your knife down. Whetstones in the #2000-#3000 grit range are less coarse and ideal if you sharpen your knife regularly.
Whetstones must be kept moist throughout the process. Hold the knife at a precise cutting edge angle, then use light pressure to glide the blade back and forth along with the stone. Repeat the process for each side.
For your safety, it’s important to keep your boning knife sharp before using it.
You can also use home electric sharpeners, but be aware that they only have preset angles and no customizing options. You may end up sharpening your knife incorrectly or damaging your blades due to sharpening at an incorrect angle. It has the potential to sever the already thin blade of your boning knife.
If you’re not familiar with how to sharpen your boning knife, we suggest leaving the job to the professionals to avoid damaging your blade.
Where you store your knife also plays a big role in keeping your boning knife sharp. Putting knives in the drawer doesn’t mean just tossing them inside. Use drawer inserts specially made for knives to keep them sharp and from rubbing against other utensils. Countertop storage is another option. However, if you want to save countertop and drawer space, wall storage for easier access is an option.
Now you know what you can do using your boning knife. It offers more than what its name says, huh? It’s a great addition to your kitchen knife set, but it needs proper care for it to last.
Do you need a boning knife? If so, check out HDMD’s collection of high-quality knives. Give yourself the peace of mind that comes with having a tried and tested knife for your kitchen needs.