Besides confidence, the essential tool for the butcher is a boning knife and then a breaking knife. I use my 8-inch breaking knife for everything!
If you’re new to the business, know that it’s a big no-no to start steeling someone’s knife!
Every butcher should have their own set of knives; after all, a knife extends the butcher’s hand. The way they cut and use a honing steel is their footprint, or should I say handprint?
Never “steal” or hone a meat cutter’s knife!
A Honing Steel – This tool helps keep the edge of your knife blade straight, reduces the risk of injury, prolongs the life of the knife, and should be used frequently throughout the day. The meat cutter can master the art of honing a blade within a few weeks. Steels typically come in three surfaces, and not all three surfaces are needed to realign your knife. It depends on the condition of the edge of your blade. Always start with the coarse steel, and finish your knife with the fine steel.
Coarse Steel: has deep grooves in the rod of the steel. Use this steel when you see visual signs of dents and divots.
Medium Steel: has medium coarse grooves and is used to grind the edge of your knife.
Fine Steel: features a smooth, shiny surface and is used to finish the edge of your knife.
Cimeter Knife – A large knife 10 inches or more in length with a wide blade is referred to as a steak knife because it is excellent for cutting beef ribs, loins, and top sirloins into steaks. Using a steak knife helps eliminate the sawing ridges in the muscle. A large steak knife also makes the physical part of cutting a large muscle easier because it does not require as much pressure on the blade. Using a longer, wider blade increases the potential to cut yourself, so keep a close eye on your non-cutting hand.
Breaking Knife – A larger knife with a wider blade that typically measures 8 to 10 inches in length and is used to remove and separate primals from the carcass, remove heavy fat, and separate joints. Use this knife to remove subprimals from primals and separate connective tissue from the muscle. This versatile knife is excellent for cutting and trimming steaks and roasts.
Skinning Knife – This is a must-have knife when processing whole skin on carcasses or sides. The curved blade allows for a full cut motion, especially when making cuts toward the animal’s front. Whether you are skinning a cow, sheep, or hog, this knife can handle it!
Number Five & Six
Boning Knife – This knife ranges from 5 to 7 inches in length with a narrow blade and is used to separate subprimals from primals, remove single muscles from subprimals and trim fat from lean. Try the serrated boning knife to cut pieces for stew, stir-fry, and kebabs—the flexibility of the blade is a meat cutter preference.
Poultry Knife – This 4-inch straight-edge knife is perfect for breaking down poultry, separating joints, and cutting into portions. The poultry knife allows for precise cutting when removing fat from the meat.
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