As the busy holiday entertaining season arrives, meal preparation also seems to ramp up and this is where kitchen knives can shine for all sorts of tasks.
Here are some carving and cutting directions to help home cooks get the edge on preparation.
To Carve a Bone-In Ham
Begin by cutting away any fat, then slice thinly across the grain. If the ham is glazed, try to distribute as much of this as possible among the slices.
To Bone a Cooked Ham
It is easier to take a ham off the bone before carving, although it doesn't look as attractive. Remove the three natural lobes (hip, thigh and shank) with a carving knife or any long knife. Then transfer ham to a cutting board and carve across the grain, as thinly as you require.
Rest the brussels sprouts on a cutting board. Using a small kitchen knife, slice the base off close to the root, being careful not to remove too much. Remove any tough outer leaves.
If the brussels sprouts you are using are very young (i.e., small), they simply need to be trimmed at the base. If they are larger and older, then the outer leaves and a greater proportion of the base may need to be removed.
Be careful not to cut too far up the sprout, as all the leaves will fall off, leaving only a small amount of sprout. This will cause the leaves to overcook and turn a yellow-brown colour before the main body is cooked.
Make a cross incision from the edge of the base toward the centre, no more than 5 mm (1/4 inch) deep so that the sprout will cook evenly to its core.
Peeling and Segmenting Oranges
First remove all of the skin and the pith with a serrated fruit knife. To create a flat base, top and tail the orange by slicing a small amount off both the top and bottom - just enough to reveal the orange flesh underneath.
Stand the orange up on one end and slice around the edge of the orange. Take just enough skin and pith off to reveal the juicy orange flesh. Turn the orange slightly and repeat down another membrane.
Continue working your way around the orange until all the pith and skin have been removed. At this point you can slice widthwise across the orange for orange slices.
To segment, pick the orange up in one hand and take the knife in the other hand. Cut down along each of the segment lines, toward the centre of the fruit. Try to shave within the segments to produce the juiciest pieces possible. Repeat until you have removed all of the segments.
Source: "Kitchen Knife Skills" by Marian Lumb (Firefly Books Ltd.).