A boning knife is a curious cooking accessory. While its name might imply that it’s a one-trick pony of a kitchen tool, once you take the time to learn how to use a boning knife, you may discover that this unique, curved, flexible blade can be quite versatile (and great for building your knife skills). Here’s a guide to the multitude of uses, from bones and beyond, for your boning knife.
Note: For more knife tips, check out this illustrated guide to kitchen knives.
First off, what is a boning knife?
Composed of a thin, somewhat flexible and curved blade measuring 5 to 7 inches long, the boning knife is designed to get into small spaces to detatch meat from bone. More firm blades will be more effective for cuts of beef, whereas a more flexible blade will be better suited for cuts of chicken. An extremely flexible version called a filet knife is preferred for delicate fish.
How can you use a boning knife?
The primary function of a boning knife follows its form. Its flexible blade allows for cutting of meat away from bone with dexterity to work in oddly shaped areas.
However, the unusual shape of a boning knife makes it well suited to other odd jobs in the kitchen–some of them creative and somewhat unexpected. Here are a sampling of its many uses.
Removing meat from bone
Sort of a like a jigsaw, a boning knife can be used to cut around sometimes oddly-shaped bones to “release” the meat. In this way, the boning knife is meant to extract meat from bone, rather than cutting through bone.
Remove skin from meat
A boning knife can also be used to cleanly remove sin from just about any type of meat. From chicken, which has a prominent skin, to meats like pork or lamb which have a coating of “silver” skin, the boning knife’s flexible tip and thinness allow you to adeptly extract the skin from the meat, which can help keep dishes from coming out too tough. A boning knife can also be used to remove skin from fish.
Cutting cookies without a cutter
It’s true: boning knives can be used for baked goods. The flexible blade is helpful to go free form with cookies. If you don’t have a cutter for the shape you’d like, and don’t have time to make your own cookie cutter, a boning knife’s flexible tip can work like a jigsaw on your dough, helping you cut complex shapes. A boning knife could also be used to cut out the inside perforation on cookies such as stained glass cookies.
Cutting mangoes is a lot easier with the flexible blade of a boning knife. A smaller size will allow you to remove the mango from the skin with ease.
Cutting the core from apples
A boning knife is ideal for extracting the core from apples or pears without sacrificing too much fruit. Give it a try: the flexible blade allows you to cut the seeds away in the most concise way possible.
While not quite as perfect as a cake carving kit, a boning knife can be used in a pinch to do some light carving and sculpting of cakes before a cake decorating project.
A boning knife can be used to carve circles from cupcakes to “core” them if you’d like to add a filling. By coring the cupcakes, you’ll have a generous cavity to fill with something delicious, be it mousse, fruit preserves, or ganache.
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