Plastic knife pot roast (with recipe)
Tonight I bring you the tale of the plastic knife and the pot roast, in which we will attempt to answer the question: Will the little red plastic knife be able to cut up vegetables for a pot roast or will it have to call on the reinforcement knife lurking in the background?
The bright red beauty is a Zyliss salad knife - theory being that if you cut your salad with plastic/nylon instead of metal the lettuce won't oxidize and turn icky brown. I tear lettuce for salad by hand so that purpose was of little interest to me, but I have been looking for kid-safe tools and wondered if it would work to cut veggies but not fingers.
Setting my expectations at some reasonable level, I decided that I would try something soft to start with. Handing the knife and a tomato to someoneElse, I watched, ready to admit defeat when the knife mangled the tomato.
Except it didn't.
While I would not use it to slice tomatoes for a caprese salad - the slices are a bit rough - it would be fine for places where presentation wasn't an issue. In any case, most kids would be happy to be able to slice their own darned tomatoes, sloppily or not.
The real test came the next day, when I pulled out the onion, potatoes and carrots for the pot roast. Sure, the knife had held its own against a tomato, but what about celery, or an onion, or a carrot? A big, fat carrot at that!
Starting with the onion, I laid the knife against the orb and press. The top layers yield surprisingly easily. Steadying the blade with my other hand and firmly pressing down with both hands, the knife slides the rest of the way through the onion quickly. Cutting the onion into pieces is quick and painless.
Next up is the potato which is easier than the onion. Celery isn't too hard, although some of the strings remain intact. But what about those carrots? Well, it's not a pretty clean cut, more of a half-cut, half-snap but it works and in another minute or two, I have a pile of carrot chunks to go along with the rest of the vegetables.
All in all, I would have to give this little knife a big thumbs up. It actually seems like a great learning tool for kids who are, wisely, more concerned about being able to make tasty food themselves than about perfect looking tomato slices.
As a last test, I ran the blade back and forth across my arm for a minute and it refused to make more than a minor 'dent' in my skin. My guess is that a dedicated kid could do damage to themselves (or a sibling) with it, but slipping and slicing a finger seems to be nigh on impossible.
There are a variety of plastic or nylon knives, all of which are varying degrees of inexpensive (3-6 bucks on Amazon and at stores near you). They come in a plethora of colors, although I have seen a wider variety wandering around kitchen stores lately than I can turn up online.
As for the rest of the pot roast, let's pretend this is a recipe.
Get a nice boneless chuck roast from the local butcher, as well as an onion, a few celery stalks, potatoes and carrots, and some herbs. I used bay, rosemary and thyme, all fresh.
Place a Dutch oven (or other ovenproof pan with cover) on medium heat and when the pan is hot, add a swirl of olive oil. Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper and brown one side for ~5 minutes. Turn the roast over, add the onion and continue cooking for another minute or two, stirring the onions a few times.
Add the remnants of a bottle of red wine that has been sitting in the fridge for a week waiting for a purpose in life and some beef stock. You want to have enough liquid that the pan won't dry out during its long, slow cooking time. I used ~3 cups total, roughly half wine and half stock.
Toss everything else in the pan: potatoes, carrots, celery, and herbs. Cover and place in a 225 oven for a few hours. You'll know it's done when you try to lift the roast out of the pan and it falls to pieces. The juices in the pan makes marvelous gravy, rich and herb-infused. I would have taken a picture but I was hungry.