I do a LOT of meat prep (boning chickens and lamb legs, slicing whole ribeyes into steaks, removing silverskin from whole flap, etc.), and yet I have never owned a boning knife. Generally speaking, I find a chef’s knife more than adequate for these tasks, but there are those times when I think a more flexible knife would allow me to be a bit more precise and lose less meat. What are your favorites? And specifically, what length do you prefer? I see a lot of recommendations for 5" boning knives but that seems small for some of the big cuts I buy. Thanks, HOs!
This is the one I use. It is very flexible, and I prefer the full bolster, and mainly use it for seafood and chicken.
If you want something a little bigger for larger cuts they make a seven inch version.
I keep and use both stiff and flexible boning-geometry knives. I’ve never purchased any stiffs because I inherited a bunch from my dad’s packing house operation. Those were mostly F. Dick and Victorinox, some Dexters.
My only true flexible “boning” knife is a 6" Henckels, but I have more classic “fillet” knives. I think the two are pretty much interchangeable for their best uses, which don’t include disjointing and breaking down carcasses.
What boning tasks are you doing with your “big cuts”? For example, are you boning out beef for grinding hamburger? Removing sawn bone from steaks and chops?
FWIW, stiff 5-6" knives were all the butchers in the plant’s boning room used…
I have a Sabatier carbon steel boning knife (profile is like @ScottinPollock knife) that is my go to, but sometimes the pointy little Nogent parer is just the ticket, partially because its straight edge easily takes and hold a razor like edge. I bone chickens sometimes. for the sake of presentation or making paillards, but I think bone in is tastier. I will cut up various larger cuts of beef for burger or stew chunks. I am fine with bones in steaks and chops so no boning needs there. For ham steak marrow bones I use a demitasse spoon.
Depends. I actually rarely buy bone-in beef other than a standing rib roast or short ribs, and I typically don’t remove the bone from those. I often trim big cuts like chuck roll, shoulder clod, whole flap, etc. of extra fat and silverskin, though, and I think a boning knife might be useful there.
Pork shoulder and leg of lamb, I sometimes buy bone in and remove. I debone chicken thighs regularly. Duck breast, too, as part of breaking down a whole one for confit/boneless breast.
This is good to know - maybe 5-6" is enough. As I think about it, any task I do that would require more than 6" in length is probably done better with a chef’s knife in any case.
I own a range of boning knives and filleting knives, all made by F.Dick.
The fun thing is that I don’t have any other F.Dick knives in my regular knife collection, regular meaning the knives I really treasure and use for all other stuff than raw meat.
With that said I’m actually talking my raw meat knives down a bit and that’s not fair at all.
Raw meat knives, whether it deboning knives or filleting knives, are key elements in a proper knife arsenal - especially if you handle raw meat often in your home kitchen.
Why did I go with F. Dick for my raw meat knives ?
I went to my local butchers and asked what they used.
9/10 used either F. Dick or Victorinox and we’re talking the ultra cheap plastic handle versions.
I like to REALLY wash my raw meat knives down thoroughly after use. If I washed my other far more expensive knives down like that, the handle on them might suffer in the long run. Not so with the cheap rugged plastic handle series from F. Dick and Victorinox.
After actually buying a bunch of these ultra cheap F. Dick blue plastic handled knives I’ve discovered how absolutely excellent sharp and well designed knives they really are. They are EXTREMELY sharp, and I can sharpen them very fast on stones or even just give them a turn on my ceramic gritt 1500 honing rod followed by a session on my Dickoron sapphire honing steel and they are good to go again and very very sharp.
I own these raw meat knives. But this is probably excessive, but this is what I own.
All are F. Dick knives as already mentioned.
F. Dick 1905 series
- Curved slim ‘Turkish style’ 17 cm butcher knife.
- Flexible 15 cm filleting knife.
F. Dick Blue Fibrox series
- Semi flexible 13 cm deboning knife
- Semi flexible 15 cm deboning knife
- Full flexible extra slim 20 cm filleting knife
- Regular French style 18 cm butcher knife
- Regular French style 21 cm butcher knife
- Regular French style 24 cm butcher knife
If I was you, I’d go for a 15 cm semi flexible deboning knife and a 18 cm or 21 cm regular French style butcher knife. With that you can handle most raw meat tasks for a home chef. You also need a full flexible 15-18 cm filleting knife.
I’m not a butcher nor a chef.
I’m a knife and cookware enthusiast with a huge interest in cooking and cooking techniques.
Consider this: Boning knives don’t slice much. They mostly separarate, and work in the interstices between flesh and bone and within joints. One reason a 5-6" (I’m gonna say it, sorry) stiff boner works so well is that it can get into a joint and be efficiently twisted to get the job done. Even if you’re starting with quarters of large beef, that’s enough.
I hate to equate great Chinese philosophers with dated American rockstars, but if you read in Chuangtzu of Cook T’ing and Ted Nugent’s ramblings, unless there’s slicing involved, butchers’ knives needn’t be long, whale flensing notwithstanding.
I just have a couple of cheap Victorinox boning knives, but what I’ve had for years and really love to use is a wee Wusthof trimming knife.
It’s less than 3”’ long, and they now make a stamped version without a bolster. Obviously for small work.
I also have a Global filleting knife; I’ve probably had it for 30 years, I just shrug when I look at it.
I don’t do big animal chunk break downs, but I do enough whole chicken break downs. I only use my fillet knife that I think is more designed for seafood, but it’s perfect for the meat needs too. I like having the thin, flexible blade and it’s helped for the few times in removing any meat bones when I’ve needed it. It’s plus that it also works well for skinning fish and cutting fillets on fish when needed.
Mine is quite old now (and still going strong) - not sure if it’s this exact model of Victorinox, but very similar: