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From the Strategist: The 8 (Handsome) Knives a Butcher Uses in Her Kitchen



As a fourth-generation butcher, I have been around knives my whole life — probably much sooner than I should have been, honestly. The knives my grandpa and his father and brother used were about utility and utility only: How many beef carcasses could they break down before needing to sharpen them? How many times could they sharpen them before they were too toothpick-thin to be useful? If the handle got bloody, could you still grip it? Did the weight make it easy to change position? I don’t think I ever once heard them talk about the beauty of a knife.

When I moved to New York in 2004, I immediately started working in kitchens to pay my way through school. One of the first things I noticed was how the cooks I worked with were so proud of their knives. They’d unfurl their knife rolls with such reverence and sharpen them on a whetstone so tenderly that I sometimes had to look away. My first knife roll, meanwhile, was filled with a random assortment of the cheapest knives I could find at the Bed Bath & Beyond on 6th Avenue. While I quickly realized that all knives are not created equal, it wasn’t until I transferred from kitchen work to full-time butchering in 2009 that the importance of a good knife really sunk in. You only have one cutting arm, so your knife becomes an extension of that arm, and because of that, you grow to worship your knives.

As of about a year and a half ago, I stepped away from butchering to launch a sausage company called Seemore Meats & Veggies (named after my grandpa, Seymour). By then I had amassed an arsenal of butchery knives, but many of them were not really made for use in non-commercial kitchens. The knives I use most at home land squarely in between those beloved by my butcher relatives and those worshipped by my chef colleagues. First and foremost, they’re functional — they hold an edge for a long time and are easy to resharpen, clean, and hold. But — and don’t tell Grandpa Seymour this — they’re also beautiful to look at. Below, the eight knives I rely on in my own kitchen.

My chefs knife and boning knife

Chef’s knife.

For my beater knives — or the ones I use regularly and roughly — I really love Victorinox. My scabbard at work has always been filled with the brand’s knives because they tend to last the longest and keep a sharp edge, even when being used daily on heavy projects. The blades are stainless steel, which make them easy to maintain, and I love the rosewood handle for grip comfort — it’s far preferable to a plastic handle for long hours of cutting, and the rosewood tends to keep grip even when bloody. You may not be breaking down full beef carcasses in your home kitchen (or maybe you are? What do I know!), but you still want knives that don’t need to be sharpened every time you break a chicken. To me, Victorinox’s price point is also very fair for what they offer, which is important in an everyday knife.

My paring knife

A paring knife on white background.

After using such enormous knives every day at work for so long, I get a weird thrill every time I get to use a tiny paring knife in my own kitchen. I inherited (perhaps accidentally) this paring knife from a kitchen I worked in years ago. It sharpens easily on a diamond steel and the super-sharp tip makes it a great tool for things like coring fruit and digging the eyes out of potatoes. I like the light weight of it and the handle is grippy enough that I feel comfortable using it to peel vegetables without cutting my finger off.

My bread knife

Jagged bread knife with wooden handle.

For absolutely no good reason, I held off on buying a bread knife until around the time I started Seemore. I felt a weird prejudice against them because they are made to do one very specific thing. But now that I have one, I will never look back. Bread is my favorite food and I had no idea how badly I was disrespecting it all these years. I like this one by Tojiro because it’s lightweight and sharp enough to slice through even the crustiest bread without squashing it, and the handle is long enough to tackle large loaves. I admittedly don’t have anything to compare it to, but it has changed my life!

My vegetable knife

Cleaver-style knife with a black handle.

This knife goes by a few names — some people call it a vegetable knife or vegetable cleaver, others a Chinese chef’s knife, and sometimes it’s referred to as a chukabocko. I don’t cook much meat at home, so it’s probably my most-used knife. Although it’s shaped similarly to a meat cleaver, it’s a totally different tool. The blade on this is much thinner, allowing for more delicate slices. The knife is also much lighter than a meat cleaver, making quick, agile slicing easy-breezy. If you were to use this instead of a traditional cleaver to wedge through bone, it would chip, and you also wouldn’t be doing your cutting arm any favors because the light weight doesn’t give you much leverage. I mostly use this for dicing vegetables, but it also works really well for thinly slicing boneless meat. The blade is almost totally straight but curves slightly, which is perfect for the rocking motion of chopping, and the tip is slightly weighted to encourage that rhythm as well. This Shun model is the primo version of this type of knife, but I never regret investing in the brand’s knives. I wouldn’t sharpen it (or any Shun knife) at home unless you’re experienced with a whetstone, but the company does offer a free sharpening service.

My cleaver

Cleaver with arched top on a white background.

Despite working in butchery, I rarely ever used a cleaver in professional kitchens because we usually had a bandsaw (and I am, by nature, lazy). Both back then and now in my home kitchen, the thing I use a cleaver most for is to pound out meat until it’s super thin. Unlike meat mallets, which tend to chew meat up into mush, a cleaver has enough of a smooth surface area and heft to do a lot of flattening with minimal effort. I love this F. Dick cleaver for its astonishing, almost comical heft, its long handle, and its ability to take a beating. It’s perfect for pounding out chicken cutlets or schnitzel: I line whatever I’m pounding with a sheet of plastic and then use the flat side of the cleaver to take out all of my anger on the meat. It works equally well for smashing a bunch of boiled potatoes at once before you roast them.

My mezzaluna

Arch-shaped mezzaluna knife with wooden handles on both ends.

Not to be a jerk, but I got my favorite mezzaluna at a vintage market in Sicily. I admittedly bought the knife because I thought it looked extremely cool, but it’s since become one of my favorite tools. I like using it so much that I bought this backup mezzaluna from Williams Sonoma, which I feel less nervous about beating up. I cook with a lot of herbs at home and I love using my mezzaluna to chop big piles of them. It’s also great for roughly chopping up lots of roasted meat, like brisket or carnitas for tacos, or quickly dicing onions and garlic, or making a rough board pesto. This one’s smooth wooden handles are comfortable and it’s lightweight but still has enough heft to spare your arms some strain. The size is ideal, too — big enough to cover a good amount of surface area, but compact enough to do a good, concentrated chop.

My pocket knife

Folded pocket knife with wooden handle.

Years ago, I went to a Vice x Matty Matheson dinner that I had cut a bunch of meat for, and they gave out these Opinel No. 8 pocket knives as a gift at the end of the night. I kept it in my work pants at all times from then on and was always shocked at how often the freebie came in handy for small everyday tasks. Nine years later, it’s still sharp, and I still use it all the time for all kinds of little tasks in my kitchen, from breaking down boxes, to cutting twine for roasts, to opening annoying packaging, to digging into my drain to see why it’s moving so slowly. It’s also the cutest knife I own.


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The Eater Guide on How to Help During the Crisis



Not all that long ago it seemed like if the pandemic weren’t exactly over by now, then at least the worst of it would be. But the summer didn’t make things any simpler. Cases continued to spread, and fires and hurricanes ravaged the West and Gulf Coast. As the weather turned colder, more states began allowing indoor activities and face-to-face school. As a result, the virus appears to be surging once more. It is increasingly clear that not only will thousands more Americans likely die as a direct result of COVID-19 by the end of 2020, but the mass misery of the economic devastation it has unleashed — suffering disproportionately endured by Black and Latinx communities — will not lift anytime soon. 

Benefits like the federal $600 a week unemployment expansion ran out or contracted for more than 25 million Americans in July and the federal government has failed to agree on the terms of a new aid package. Organizations that provide food and housing assistance to low-income people across the country, already strained by the last several months of the pandemic and the government’s appallingly incompetent — and at times malevolent — response, are scrambling to meet a tidal wave of need. As roughly 40 percent of restaurants on the brink of closing forever, programs that aid people in the food industry are also seeking further support so they can continue to provide assistance to worker who remain unemployed or underemployed. Groups representing Indigenous communities, undocumented immigrants, farmworkers, and people of color are also mobilizing to get assistance to marginalized people and lay a foundation for a more resilient food system — because while it’s an extraordinary time of need, it’s also not new. 

Hunger and poverty have always been the U.S.’s most shameful open secrets. Despite being the wealthiest country in the world, as of 2018 more than 13 percent of people in the U.S. lived below the poverty level, according to the Census Bureau, while a full 78 percent of U.S. workers lived paycheck to paycheck. The pandemic and its economic fallout have put those statistics into ever starker relief, as the nation’s working class and its poorest residents have faced the largest health burden from the virus. Several studies have estimated that pandemic-related job losses and increased food costs have roughly doubled food insecurity in the U.S., and No Kid Hungry estimates that one quarter of children around the country could face food insecurity in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus. 

In this guide, Eater has identified a range of programs, organizations, and charities fighting hunger, developing sustainable food networks, and providing support to the roughly 31 million people who are unemployed or are working less than they’d like to be due to this global medical disaster. These are places that are stepping in to do work in their communities where governments and elected officials have left people behind. Collected here are opportunities for giving and volunteering in and around the United States and its territories, at both the national and the local level, as well as in the U.K. Editors have done their best to vet the charities included here, but it’s always important to make sure when you give money or time that the organization you’re supporting aligns with your values and has a transparent, proven track record. If you only have time or resources to give, give it, but monetary donations — especially those offered over an extended period — can be even more impactful because charities tend to know where the greatest need is. If you’ve chosen a group and aren’t sure what’s the best way to help, it’s worth reaching out and asking.


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Trump Teases an ‘EPIC’ Election Night Party at His D.C. Hotel Despite Capacity Limits



Despite D.C.’s ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, President Donald Trump’s campaign has teased plans to host a party for election night on Tuesday, November 3, at the Trump International Hotel downtown. Fundraising emails from Donald Trump Jr. include details on a “sweepstakes” to fly a supporter to D.C. for a party described in all-caps as “EPIC,” “ELECTRIC,” and “INCREDIBLE.”

Under D.C.’s Phase 2 reopening restrictions, mass gatherings are capped at a maximum capacity of 50 people. Restaurants are still limited to half-capacity seating with no standing and no countertop service from bartenders. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says she wasn’t aware of plans for the party until Monday, October 26, Washingtonian reports.

The location of the election night party is unclear, but the opulent hotel has multiple ballrooms and event spaces. The hotel includes a location of celebrity chef David Burke’s BLT Prime steakhouse. Lobby-level bar Benjamin serves $23 glasses of sangria and $120 seafood towers. Nearby, more affordable pub Harry’s has already seen pro-Trump crowds openly flouting mask requirements and other protocols meant to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Trump has consistently downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. After he survived a case, Trump told Americans, “Don’t let it dominate your life.”

On election night four years ago, the recently opened hotel was the site of an impromptu and raucous gathering for supporters watching the numbers roll in on large TVs framing its gold bar. The controversial Pennsylvania Avenue hotel near the White House has been sold out for weeks on and around Election Day at rates going for $1,200 a night, the Associated Press reports.

The fine print in the sweepstakes notes the campaign can move the date of the trip and the location of the hotel stay at its discretion. The prize also includes a photo op with Trump. The supposedly randomly chosen winner, who is subject to a background check, will be responsible for all ground transportation, meals, and all other expenses during the duration of the trip.


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Eater Staffers Pick Their Favorite Instant Pot Recipes



Now that we are over the sourdough-and-regrowing-scallions part of the pandemic, but in no way over the actual pandemic, we must prepare for The Hunkering. Every winter is a time for stews, roasts, and hearty pasta bakes, but this winter it feels extra important, both because most of us are going to be indoors way more than any previous season, and have completely lost the energy to do anything but throw a bunch of stuff in a pot. Which obviously means it’s time to break out the Instant Pots.

A few years ago it seemed like electric multicookers, especially the Instant Pot, may have just been a fad. But the fact that in one appliance you can cook anything from soup to pudding to bread makes it pretty ideal for cooking during quarantine fatigue. Eater’s staffers rounded up our favorite go-to Instant Pot recipes, perfect for the many nights when you’re in the mood for something delicious, but you know, wanting to do as little as possible to make it happen. And as Eater Dallas and Eater Houston editor Amy McCarthy noted, you could always go with “just some fucking chicken breasts,” and let the machine do the rest.

Beef barley soup: This is the first that comes to mind. It’s basically a textbook version of this classic soup, and perfect for chilly weather. It’s low-lift, reasonably quick to put together, and freezes well. — Missy Frederick, cities director

Dakbokkeumtang: I make this recipe when I’m craving a savory chicken dish with the volume turned up. All that delicious flavor comes from the sauce. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and spicy from gochujang and sugar. Doenjang and oyster sauce adds another layer of depth. Typically to make this Korean comfort dish, you would need to watch over the pot, making sure that the chicken pieces are soaking up the sauce. But everything is done in the Instant Pot, so the result is fall-off-the-bone, tender chicken with potatoes that just break apart with no effort at all. Also, who doesn’t love a dump-everything-and-press-the-button recipe?! — James Park, social media manager

Mac and cheese: I make this one once a week when I’m lazy and cooking sounds hard. I use whatever cheese is in the fridge, add a little brown mustard to the mix, and usually skip the milk or add it at the very end. Would suggest you grate the mozzarella or it becomes a blob. — Brenna Houck, editor at Eater Detroit

Chinese poached whole chicken: Basically, I get a whole chicken every week, and I got tired of roasting it. This recipe is a really easy — not entirely foolproof, but a good enough way to poach a chicken whole in about 40 to 50 minutes, with not too much work on my part. You can use it specifically as white-cut chicken over rice with, say, a ginger scallion sauce, but just as often I pull the meat off the carcass and use it for meals throughout the week. Two caveats: You really do need an instant-read thermometer to tell when it’s done, and I find it’s much better to salt the chicken 24 hours in advance (I use the method in Salt Fat Acid Heat), so it has enough taste. And after poaching the chicken and pulling off the meat, I often toss the carcass right back into its cooking liquid, cook it on manual for another 60 minutes, and end up with a bunch of chicken stock. — Meghan McCarron, special correspondent

Kosha mangsho: This is a traditional Bengali goat or lamb stew in a heavily spiced, yogurt gravy, and it’s intensely rich and comforting. This recipe uses a pressure cooker to save time, but on the offchance you landed on this page and don’t have an Instant Pot or the like, you can still just simmer it in a large pot. — Jaya Saxena, staff writer

Lemongrass coconut chicken: The sauce is unbelievably tasty for just a few ingredients and it comes together so quickly. The labor to flavor ratio makes it one of my go-tos when I get bored with cooking or can’t be bothered to put in much effort. It’s also great over rice or any other grain. — Brittanie Shey, Eater Houston and Eater Dallas associate editor

Basic chicken noodle soup: I make a basic chicken noodle soup in the Instant Pot probably every week in the winter: The base recipe is two chicken breasts, a carton and a half of broth, a few cups (I eyeball it) roughly chopped diced celery, carrot, and onion, and whatever spices you want. Cook everything together on high pressure for 25 mins. You can quick-release the pressure and remove the chicken breasts, and shred them — while you’re shredding, set the pot’s saute function so the broth remains boiling and add egg noodles. Once the noodles are cooked, dump the shredded chicken back in and you’re done! This is perfect because frozen chicken works just as well (and at the same cook time), and you can experiment with any leafy greens at the end (throw them in when you add the noodles) and any noodle types you want. — Erin DeJesus, lead editor, Eater.com

Pork chile verde: This recipe is very good; I found it last year when I had a truckload of tomatillos from my garden. It is a great comfort food and works well as stew or tacos. — Brenna Houck, Editor at Eater Detroit


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