You could spend as much money as you wanted on knives. Somewhere out there, a person is probably selling a six-figure gold paring knife with diamonds in the handle and a proprietary smartphone app that tells you how thin you're slicing, and beeps to let you know whenever Mercury is retrograde.
But sometimes the expensive tools aren't the best ones, and Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli says that her most favorite kitchen tool is actually a cheap paring knife.
A paring knife is probably the second most useful knife in the kitchen — after a standard chef's knife (here are 10 we love for any budget!), but before the bread knife and all the other things in one of those big knife block sets. It's great to have around for smaller work that would be inconvenient with a larger knife (think: hulling strawberries, cutting an orange into supremes, or peeling an apple). The more fine, small detail work you do, the more useful a paring knife is.
The Iron Chef and longtime judge on Chopped tells the Food Network that her cheap-o paring knife is the one cooking tool she couldn't live without — she specifically likes the ones that retail for between five and 10 dollars.
"I almost say the cheaper the better," she says in an interview with Pure Wow. "My absolute favorite is a Sabatier. The knife is lightweight and easy to hold, while the blade itself is pretty easy to keep sharp."
Paring knives are designed for small tasks, and even an inexpensive one can easily handle most things any home cook will ever throw at it. There's one very practical reason Alex always recommends a cheap paring knife over a fancy one: Small knives are more likely to meet with misfortune than big ones, and cheaper ones can just be replaced when that happens.
"It's small and often accidentally gets tossed in the garbage, so you don't want to be too emotionally attached to it," she told Parade magazine.
That's a very good point. A small knife is more likely to drop down the garbage disposal, get tossed in the dishwasher, or be used to open an Amazon box than a big chef's knife. A cheap paring knife is perfectly practical, and if something happens to it, you can just get a new one.
What's your favorite paring knife?