These knives are as sharp as knives can be, and their applications go far beyond butchery.
Butcher knives are not only for the butchers at the meat market, but also for the cooks at home. They are the best tools for the most demanding jobs of cutting meat and bones. We will go over why and how you should use butcher knives in your kitchen.
So, what are butcher knives used for, and how are they different from the rest of the knives in your countertop knife block?
Not every knife can cut through frozen or thick cuts of meat and bone. Butcher knives are designed to do so quickly and easily, leaving the edges of the meat smooth.
There are butcher knives for cutting through bones, boning, frozen meat, and chopping. Each type of butcher knife has a specific purpose and is held differently to achieve the best cut quality of the meat without wasting it.
These knives are incredibly sharp and can sever a limb if not held properly or used in an exemplary manner. They are different from chef’s knives and regular knives we use at the table. Once you realize the value of butcher knives, you will be able to imagine how much easier cutting meat can be.
What Are Butcher Knives?
Do not let the name of these knives fool you: you do not have to be a certified butcher who cuts meat all day long to use a butcher knife.
Butcher knives are larger knives than chef’s knives or steak knives that are used to cut a carcass to get the different cuts of meat like ribs, chops, brisket, roasts, and other options.
Hunters use these knives to cut up game, and those with farms will have various types of butcher knives in their kitchens. Even home cooks use these knives to fill the freezers with different cuts of meat and to cut whole chickens, ducks, or turkeys.
All butcher knives have different blades, handles, sizes, and grips to perform each task precisely.
Different Butcher Knives and Their Uses
Each type of butcher knife has its own purpose, and—even among this category—there is no one size fits all. The different types of butcher knives in the description and their purposes are listed below in this section. While many types exist, these are the most common.
Cleavers are designed for chopping and are among the most commonly used type of butcher knives. The blade has a flat surface and is large; it is designed to cut through tough, frozen meats.
The handle on a cleaver is heavy and strong so that it can withstand the force of chopping through thick meats. It provides easier handling and control while chopping.
The boning knife:
These knives are used to cut through bones. They are also the oldest knives created and known to the human race.
In the old days, farmers would debone the meat, cut the bones up, and add them as fertilizer to the soil. When the bone was left in the meat, it was cooked with. This way, nothing was wasted: every good part of the animal was used.
The blunt knife:
Blunt knives are not used often and are compared to a medical scalpel. They are designed to fillet meat and for slicing. These knives are smaller but, in their compactness, are ideal for precision cutting.
The pairing knife:
Paring knives are used for cutting cooked or raw meat. They are the size of a steak knife and are used for cutting different patterns of meat. For example, some people shape steaks into hearts and objects like stars for specific occasions.
Paring knives are also great for filleting meat. It is so sharp, it can cut meat into the thinnest cuts imaginable. Among the butcher knives, this one is the most versatile but still cannot be used for everything in cutting.
What is the Difference Between Butcher Knives and Chef’s Knives?
Butcher knives are thicker, sharper, more durable, and can handle tough professional jobs when cutting meats. Chef’s knives are made for kitchen and restaurant use only. While going through the different types of chef’s knives, you will see how they differ from the other butcher knives.
A chef’s knife sometimes gets confused with butcher knives. Perhaps it is due to its size, blade, and butchers constantly using them while cutting meat. A chef’s knife is primarily used for food preparation when researching culinary terms.
A chef’s knife is basically an all-purpose kitchen knife generally used by grillers and home kitchen cooks. They are also used in restaurants and have an easy-grip handle with a single-pointed blade for cutting through thick meats and vegetables. However, they still do not measure up in durability to the butcher knives.
Like the butcher knives, chef’s knives have different types and purposes for each. Listed below are the different types used in homes and restaurants:
- Metal knives: Made of lightweight metal and used for lighter tasks like pan and stir-frying, chopping, and slicing;
- Carbon steel knives: Used for cutting tough vegetable leaves;
- Santoku knife: These knives are more durable than carbon steel and have a diamond-carbide cutting edge which constantly needs sharpening.
- Serrated knives: Used primarily on ethnic foods for preparing, chopping, and dicing with delicate precision. One blade side is serrated, while the other has a thin cutting edge.
Benefits of Having a Butcher Knife in Your Kitchen
One of the most significant benefits of having a butcher’s knife is the time and energy it will save you when cutting thick pieces of meat.
The blades are intensely sharp that it cuts through with ease and without leaving fragments of small pieces behind. It leaves a clean, professional cut and makes it easier to store away in the freezer for cooking later.
You never have to wait for the meat to thaw out when you want to cut it into smaller pieces. The blades will easily penetrate through, and you can still put the remaining portions of meat back in the freezer for later use because it stays frozen. Once the meat is thawed out, it must get cooked and should never go back in the freezer.
The last benefit is you will never have to call up the butcher and pay extra for special cuts of meat. Owning butcher knives allow you to cut the meat yourself, which will give you more meals down the road for you and your family.
The Importance of a Firm Grip
We cannot emphasize enough how dangerous butcher knives are and the importance of maintaining a firm grip. It will make it easy to maneuver and keep your fingers out of the way. How you hold the knife determines the skill of the cut.
For the larger knives like the clever or the chef’s knife, hold the handle with three fingers and your thumb and index finger holding the top part of the blade with a firm pinch. Smaller knives like the paring or boning knife hold the index finger on top of the blade while the thumb and remaining three fingers grab the handle.
Always Keep Safety First
We hope that the information on butcher knives has helped you understand more about using and holding the knives. Always be aware of where you place the knives and keep it where the handle is the first thing you grab. Never place loosely in a drawer or wash in a sink full of suds.
The knives are meant to cut the meat, not your fingers or hands. It can do severe damage, so be safe in all your cutting techniques.