Nov 20, 2017

Suggestions on good meat tenderizer and starter set of knives.

I am in no way a chef but every since my son has finally shown an interest in something other then video games.... (He is 17) I am all in with the support. His first real dinner he made with only support. (He actually did all the real work) was a Beef Wellington recipe he used from Chef Ramsey. Well he is now more confident after that superb dinner he is preparing to do Thanksgiving dinner. To help him I would like to make a gift on his birthday of some nice knives and he mentioned he would like a good meat tenderizer as he feels bludgeoning a piece of meat lacks finesse and tends to destroy the meat. He mentioned Ramsey just uses a meat fork and I would think there would be better options. We has a little device bought online with a bunch of spikes and a small plate with a spring to help dislodge the metal tines from the meat but quality... let say it lasted a year but eventually kaput. Advice on something nice and might last. Also would love to get him a nice starter set of Knives for his birthday (Dec 18th) far from rich like many I'm sure so am trying to do the best I can on a budget. Thank you all and am enjoying being a member of massdrop. It is unlike anything I've used so far and that is by far the best compliment I could give.

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My favorite knifes are the Henckles,
Those little spike meat tenderizers are used a lot for chicken fried steaks where I live (Texas). They are also used a lot for brining meats so the brine penetrates better and more uniformly in a short period of time. That's one kitchen gadget I won't ever use.

An overnight brine is generally sufficient to brine anything you would cook at home without resorting to puncturing it repeatedly. If it is too tough to eat otherwise, that is a different problem and a braise might be in order.

For a classic tenderizer, don't overthink this one. A flat one works really well for most applications because it is less likely to break the plastic wrap covering the butter, herbs, etc. as you pound out that chicken breast or round steak.
Good comments so far!

For Chef's knives, there are two basic profiles to choose from: German and French. German will have more 'belly' and to me are more of a slicer 'chef' knife versus the French profile which is flatter. I prefer the French/Japanese pattern because I like to leave the tip on the cutting board and cut vegetables with a cleaving or guillotine motion versus coming down from above with a 'slice'. Both work really well and it is as much a personal choice as anything (Ford, Chevy, or Dodge?).

Victorinox 'plastic' handle chef's knives are good values in general and are easy to maintain with a steel to realign the edge over time. Personally, I want something a bit harder in my own kitchen but wouldn't complain with a Victorinox in the drawer. The Wal-Mart celebrity chef "starter" knives are a good way to go for someone on a tight budget as long as you get the better "forged" ones, not the cheaper stamped knives. They will have thicker heavier blades and are really very serviceable and offer most people 90%+ of what they would get from Henckels or Wusthof.

Absolutely do not buy a full knife block. You end up spending your money on knives you will never ever use. Personally, I don't see the usefulness of a bread knife and would prefer a true meat slicer for carving a turkey or ham for a holiday meal if I was going to invest in something other than a Chef's and Paring knife.

For cost, a Wal-mart 3 knife starter set will run ~$30~40 for a good set (probably Pioneer Woman today but, my Paula Deen closeout was like $12 at the time). If $100 is doable, a true starter set from Germany, either Henckels or Wusthof, shouldn't cost more than $100 at normal retail pricing. On black friday, you might score a deal in the $70 range.

Finally, don't confuse a "knife steel" with a "knife sharpener". Steels take out (or minimize) knicks and rolled edges but, don't 'sharpen'. A true knife sharpener will restore a dull edge. I find the ~$12 diamond stones at Wal-Mart cut quick and are easy to use. Avoid blade munching automated blade sharpeners at all cost.
AngryAccountant hit the nail on the head.
Meat tenderizer, literally anything that's made of one piece of continuous metal will work fine and last decades. Something simple like this is great and will never break: Avoid ones that are covered in silicone or whatever, since they often aren't dishwasher safe. A Single piece of aluminum can just be tossed in and it's good. Blade tenderizers tend to break rather easily, so if you're wanting to buy something disposable, go with that, or use a mallet or a meat fork. Cheapest option could be something as simple as an 18 inch piece of 2x4 though!

For knives, a great starter is the Victorinox Fibrox along with it's 3.25 inch paring knife . The final piece would be the bread knife .

These knives should last well until he can pass them down to his kids and replace them with something nicer. If you've gotta choose one, go with the chef's knife. These 3 knives will be sufficient for 99% of cooking. Any knife set that requires you to get more than these (exception being steak knives for eating with) is pretty much a scam.

Side gifts to go along with it, or to tell other people to get him for Christmas when people inevitably ask you what to get him would be a magnetic rack, any will do, that's the best way to store the knives without risk of hurting the blade, or yourself. Next up would be a method of sharpening, ignore the drag through sharpening things, they're mostly junk, a good place to start would be with a guided set such as the Lansky: . It'll work wonders for your knives too!

Current prices on all 5 of those items via the links brings it to $104.50 with the following breakdown:
Chef Knife: $35.96
Paring Knife: $6.46
Bread Knife: $31.60
Tenderizer: $7.99
Sharpener: $22.49
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Thank you very much, the work you put into that post is beyond anything i expected and i appreciate it tremndously. Considering i didnt expect much i must say thank you all who responded. I have been crazy due to birthdays and holidays and vacation when I read these it made me glad i joined massdrop. And its nice to see people willing and wanting to help
Of course!
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