From novice to the professional chef, you likely have a kitchen knife set that’s your ‘go to’ for cooking tasks ranging from prepping lunches to complex Saturday night dinners.
You have your favorites such as the chef’s knife, your all-around ‘get anything done’ blade, and the smaller paring knife for delicate work and small food items.
But one blade that might not get as much air time is the bonding knife. In this guide, we help you explore the many ways a boning knife can be used to improve your cooking skills and get better results in the kitchen.
HINT: contrary to popular belief, the boning knife isn’t just used for de-boning
Comprehensive Guide to the Boning Knife and all of its Uses
What is a Boning Knife?
The ever-elusive boning knife might not get as much use as it should, but once you have a better understanding of all the ways it CAN be used, you might begin to look at it a bit differently.
Speaking of looking at the knife, to start, let’s make sure you DO know what it looks like.
A boning knife can be easily identified by it’s thin, narrow appearance and flexible blade (similar to a fillet knife). Although it’s original purpose was solely to specialize in removing the bone from various cuts of meat, the boning knife has since been adopted by professional and novice chefs alike for a wider range of kitchen tasks.
Quick Overview of Boning Knife Specs:
- Blade: Straight edge (non-serrated), long, narrow, thin and flexible
- Blade length: usually between 5-7 inches
- Edge: flat, curving slightly upward to a sharp tip
- Usually features a handguard (bolster)
What is a Boning Knife Used For?
1. Using a Boning Knife to Prepare Meat
As the name suggests, the boning knife’s most commonly used purpose is for the preparation of ‘bone in’ meats. The blade’s unique shape and its flexibility enable even the most amateur of chefs to navigate tight spaces (such as within a meat carcass). The slender, razor-sharp blade glides effortlessly along muscle fibers, sinew and tendons, while the tip is perfect for separating joints. This makes the boning knife an ideal companion when preparing full chickens, ribs, turkeys and more.
Many of our most delectable meats come with the skin on. Although this layer can be a welcomed addition to any protein, in some cases (whether for health or cooking style), the skin may need to be removed. A deboning knife can easily slip under the skin and remove this layer with ease.
Certain cuts of pork, beef and lamb are known for having a layer of fat surrounding the meat that may need to be removed or reduced prior to cooking. The thin nimble blade of a boning knife is perfect for this task, enabling you to precisely remove layers of fat without damaging or wasting any meat below.
Butchering Your Own Meat
Although time-consuming, butchering your own meat has several benefits that you may find appealing:
- Have control of what you and your family eat, from field to plate
- Enables you to explore trying out new dishes or rare parts of the animal such as the neck, feet, cheek or other organs
- The boning knife allows you to have more precise control over the exact cut, from where it is sourced to the shape and thickness
- Can be cheaper than buying already butchered and prepped to cook meat
We often get asked if a boning knife can be used for filleting. The answer is YES. In fact, a fillet knife is (technically speaking) a type of boning knife.
2. Using a Boning Knife to Prepare Fruit
Not just for meat, the capable and versatile boning knife can also help you prepare fruit like a pro. From decorative arrangements to delicious fruit trays or intricate fruit carving, this blade can get it done. Similar to removing the skin on meat, the boning knife is also used for peeling the rinds and skin off of fruit. The size of the blade, combined with it’s flexibility and curved design make it easy to peel curved fruits.
3. Using a Boning Knife for Baked Goods
As crazy as it sounds, a boning knife is the ‘secret weapon’ of artisan bakers. Bakers often make use of the boning knife for carving intricate and unique designs and shapes in cakes, breads and more. The thin blade can precisely navigate odd shapes and create precise clean cuts to shape cakes into fun shapes. Bakers also use the boning knife for coring out cupcakes and other bakery items before filling them up with custards, creams, whip creme or other mouth-watering fillings.
The Boning Knife: Getting more use from this interesting blade
We hope you enjoyed this guide and that it opened up your eyes to the possible uses for that boning knife collecting dust in your kitchen drawer.
The boning knife might not get much love, but the fact is, this blade is capable of handling so much more than de-boning meats.