Ever been witness to someone cutting a head of cabbage on a tiny cutting board? The board sliding oh-so-dangerously across the marble countertop, while the knife operator, moonlighting as cabbage wrangler, is striving for perfectly shredded cabbage without attention to shredding their precious finger tips. Nothing makes me more nervous than watching this scene unfold in real time, except perhaps watching a deli counter lady cut my roast beef without a hair net. Scary indeed.
If I could pass on just two pieces of advice to my fearless home chefs out there who find themselves guilty of the above offense….
- Get a bigger cutting board! In fact, I recommend getting the biggest one you fit on your counter and store when not in use. Bigger, like in so many instances, is in fact, better. The bigger the board the less likely it is to disco dance its way across your countertop while you are laser focused on chopping that misshapen, slippery pineapple with your BIG…SHARP…knife. Save your finger tips and a trip to the ER. Bonus tip: place a damp paper towel under your cutting board to help stabilize your board further and reduce slippage. A still board, is a safer scenario.
- Get a bigger knife! Do not attempt to slice an eggplant with a pairing knife. It’s much too small and not the work for which that knife is intended. It’s MUCH easier and efficient to cut with a standard chef knife. More on this another time.
For now, let us focus on piece of advice #1: “get a bigger cutting board.” Also, it seems about time to introduce you to Boos cutting boards. Boos, (pronounced “Boe-z”- even though I call him “my Boo”) meet my very loyal and ever-so-modest subscription list – charmed I’m sure. Boos has been making beautifully crafted wood boards, butcher blocks and counter tops since 1887 when Conrad Boos manufactured his first three-legged block for a local butcher in Illinois. Since its inception, the American company has been perfecting cutting boards while making them accessible to the home chef.
After taking a good hard look in the mirror and coming to terms with my own cutting board inadequacies, I decided to go big and go Boos. I purchased this double-sided, 20 x 15 inch maple board and haven’t looked back since. Ringing in at $65, it’s a perfect all-purpose board at a semi-modest investment for your first venture into Boos. Looking for a step up and have the cheddar to toss around? They offer a variety of beautiful carving boards and thicker blocks that cost upwards or $300 and $400. These, of course, do not make your julienne vegetables, or perfectly carved prime rib taste any better; but it sure does make them look pretty. Blocks of all sizes are relatively easy to find at places like The Cook’s Warehouse and Williams Sonoma as well as Amazon.
Boos boards are generally crafted from three different wood types – maple, cherry, and walnut. This is mainly for two main reasons. The hardness of the wood and the porosity of the wood. It’s the same predicament to which Goldilocks finds herself: too hard and it will ruin your knifes, too soft and porous and it could be prone to bacteria. Perhaps not exactly the same predicament, but you get the point. On the Janka scale of hardness (it’s like a Scoville scale for wood), where the hardest wood measures 5060 and the softest wood measures 65, professionals agree the sweet spot for kitchen use cutting boards is between 1500-900. This is the range where Hard Maple (1450), Black Walnut (1060) and Cherry (995) all three live, making them perfect options for crafting cutting boards. These types of wood are also very tightly grained making them less prone to bacteria that like to hang out in large, damp pores. Oak wood, for instance, although very hard wood, is also very porous making it a pour choice for cutting boards. I see a lot of these out there – Just say NO to oak boards. Usually those beautiful wood top tables in restaurants and home kitchens are made from Maple and seem to be the most popular choice among chefs. It’s my personal choice, if that happens to tickle your fancy?
If you take good care of your Boos board it can last forever and bring you hours of chopping enlightenment. I’m rounding out a 5-year relationship with my current Boos. Full disclosure: I should really be more kind and condition him more often, but he’s been so good to me and my kitchen prep. It’s recommended that you condition your board monthly (depending on use) with an oil (Boos makes a mystery oil) and then seal it with a beeswax cream. It’s kind of like conditioning your hair? If you don’t moisturize your locks, dry and brittle ends are in your future, and the same applies to your cutting board. It survives a lot of water, soap and chopping – it gets dry – nourish him. Simply apply the approved oil until it soaks in thoroughly (generally overnight). Then spread a thin layer of beeswax cream all over the board evenly making sure to coat the top and bottom as well as all the sizes and edges. Allow the cream to absorb over night, then wipe off any remaining cream. You’re back in business with a happy conditioned board. Here is the one- two combo punch for maximum conditioning and care.
Boos knows boards, get one and make it big would ya!
**I have no affiliation with BOOS Blocks. I simply like the company and believe in the product.