Knife skills or how to get a free hug

knifeskills.jpgBets are that you have got a big shiny sharp piece of equipment in your kitchen drawer that you spent a whole lot of money on, but doesn’t get half as much use as that cute little set of 20 happy steak knives that you got for 19.99 off of late night television. It’s true, and I’m with you, that a 9″ blade welded into a heavy handle that you could easily cut a limb off with or be sent to prison for if emotions were running high, can be a lot to take on when it’s time to cook dinner. The thing is, once you get the feel for your knife, and you want to be sure you have a knife that you can get a feel for, because let me just get tangential here for a second, you can try to feel what you want about any old person, oceans of love and undying desire, but if the particular person isn’t up to the job of loving, can we not call it a futile effort, a time to move on and find something better? Same with a knife. You need a knife that feels like a knife and fits in your hand like it was meant to be there and one you know is going to help you get done what you need to get done.
If you have no feelings for what you have, go shopping. A serious knife place is going to have the knives behind glass. Get them to take out every knife they have that will fit your hand. The blade and the handle should feel perfectly balanced. The feel of it should start to stir you inside. When you get home, hold the knife in your hand with the big middle knuckle of your index finger sitting right on the point where the blade meets the handle, and the rest of your index finger, from the big middle knuckle, down, rests comfortably on that ridge of the knife, just before the knife goes shooting out to a point. Grab the knife tightly enough so that it doesn’t fall from your hand, but not so tight that skin is really stretching over your knuckles. Then take a breath and let your shoulders fall. There is more, but this a start. You don’t need to learn everything in a day. Just remember that the knife is about relaxing and connection.
Make a pork roast on the bone and don’t worry about the knife. Your butcher will do it for you. Have him carve along the loin to separate the meat from the short side of the ribs without fully cutting it out, or if you hate telling somebody else how to do their job, just ask him to cut the whole thing out and then loosely retie it to the bones. You need the bones on there for flavor. Make a paste of chopped fresh sage, rosemary and thyme, and garlic. You can even put some lemon zest in there without the white pith, which will make bitter. Stuff this in between the bones and the meat, spreading it around as much as possible. If you have to undo the butcher’s ties, it’s easy to retie it yourself without getting all complicated. Just tie a piece of string every few inches in a knot. Season the whole loin with kosher salt. Fearlessly heat up your biggest, heaviest saute pan and get a little olive oil there. Put the meat in fat side down and don’t move it for about fifteen minutes, until it is beautifully browned. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Set the meat in the oven and after ten minutes, pour about a cup of your best red wine over the top. Cook for a six pound loin (with bones) for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the center temperature is 155 degrees. Let it rest for twenty minutes before cutting. Serve with roasted potatoes and peas that have been turned into a pan of sizzling finely chopped onion and pancetta. Drink some more of your best red wine.
(If you want to add to the menu, make swiss chard with garlic and papa al pommodoro (warm bread salad with tomato that you can find in my book!!)
Italian cheesecake is great for dessert.

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