I think we have come to an agreement, haven’t we?, about sharp knives, their necessity in the kitchen, and the ease with which one can get the job done when knives are properly sharpened (not just honed with the rod) every six months or so.
But no matter how sharp the knife, or how skilled the home cook, there is a particular place for the perfect, thin slicing power of a mandoline. I couldn’t believe my own self when, come exam day in culinary school, I had never much used a mandoline before. Oh I’d owned one or two, but it stayed on the shelf with the unfortunate stigma of a contraption not worth moving the stepstool over to pull it down. I was making Pommes Anna for my culinary exam and wanted potato slice perfection. Katie, my station mate, saw me struggling with the thing and quietly mimed the correct way to put it together, God love her.
Like a good sharp knife, the mandoline quickly and readily becomes a weapon, so please do as my mother says whenever she knows I’m pulling out the little bad boy: BE CAREFUL WITH THAT THING!
Use the grip that takes hold of your potato or your apple and let that, and not your knuckles, be the one to edge closer and closer to the blade while your fruit whittles and shaves away.
This isn’t the time to waste not-want not with the final nub of the apple, especially if you’re slicing it without the grip (which we’re none of us going to do). Let the last bit go, and nibble on it as your treat for having pulled the mandoline contraption off the shelf and into active duty.
Mandoline slicers, like most kitchen tools, come in every level of quality and price, from the plastic $10 it’ll-do to the Mazarati stainless steel bad boys for $50-$200. Mine is on the less expensive end, and it does the job well for me. Granted, I haven’t driven the expensive ride, and it’s possible that you get what you pay for. Maybe I’m the one who needs convincing from any of you who do have the high-end model that it’s the one to beat.
The nice thing about the mandoline as opposed to a simple slicer is that you can choose how thick or thin to make your slices.
The apple chips we’re making this week are going to send you straight to apple heaven, so get ready to slice lots of them thin, and swoon by the (apple) harvest moon.