CulinAerie: Knife Know-How

Thanks to an amazing Christmas gift my husband gave me this year, I recently took another class at CulinAerie cooking school in McPherson Square entitled Knife Know-How. This class is extremely beneficial to the beginner or the skilled cook.  If you’ve ever wondered what the proper way to hold a knife is, how to chiffonade basil, or how to break apart an entire chicken, then this is the perfect class.  This class taught me that I’ve been holding my knife the wrong way for all these years and have been cutting the wrong way!  While it’s difficult to describe how exactly to hold the knife or to cut in words, Chef Susan Holt explained that one of the most important things to using your knife properly is the same rule of thumb that all golfers learn early on… always follow through!  Instead of only using a small part of your knife blade, always utilize the entire blade in order to get the knife’s maximum use.  The best way I can describe it is that your hand needs to move back and forth across the entire object you’re cutting in one smooth, fluid motion.  Chef Holt recommends using Wustof or Hencles knives.  While these knives are expensive, one will immediately tell the difference.  I had been using cheap knives for quite some time, and then was blessed with a brand new set of Hencles knives for my bridal shower.  What a change!  I cut, sliced, butchered parts of my fingers the first few times I used these knives, but to me, that was a good sign.  I could instantly tell the difference between a cheap knife and a good one.  If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a whole new set of knives (totally understandable), buy a good chef’s knife.  Chef’s knives are versatile, all-purpose utility knives that can be used for most anything in the kitchen – -chopping vegetables, mincing garlic, etc…

One of my favorite things about this class was the fact that I learned how to break down an entire chicken.  This has always been on my personal culinary-to-do list for quite a while.  Chef Holt taught us how to differentiate between the front and the back of the chicken, where those tender pieces of meat called the oysters are located, and how to cook using the breasts, thighs, wings, and yes… even the backbone (i.e. chicken stock).  The recipe we made the thighs, breasts, and wings with is called Chicken with Grainy Mustard, Cream, and Tarragon.  This chicken came out absolutely flavorful and juicy!  No dry, bland chicken breasts here.  If you’re wary of using dark meat or breaking down an entire chicken, I encourage everyone to try this recipe with chicken breasts that have the bone-in.  Trust me… bone-in will give the chicken that much more flavor.  Kudos to CulinAeria for another wonderful cooking class that left me with a greater knowledge of food than I had before!


  • 4 pieces of chicken on the bone (breasts and/or leg and thigh)
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 1 1/2 c chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp good-quality grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon leaves


  1. Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add oil.  Add chicken to the pan, skin side down and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the pan to a plate
  3. Add the onion and reduce the heat to low
  4. Add the white wine and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring up the browned bits
  5. Add the chicken stock/water and cream and bring to a simmer
  6. Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and cook on low for 30-35 minutes, turning the chicken a couple times
  7. Remove the chicken to a serving dish and keep warm
  8. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer until sauce is reduce by half, 5-10 minutes
  9. Add the mustard, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste
  10. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with rice

1 Comment

Filed under Main Course, Misc.

One response to “CulinAerie: Knife Know-How

  1. What a delicious chicken dish. Love the mustard sauce very much!

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