Razor-sharp carving knife made from hard carbon steel. Austrian plum wood handle. Every part of the knife is entirely handmade in Solingen, Germany, by a century-old company. (
Long, narrow and dramatic, the Tranchelard knife is also drop-forged and ground from carbon steel — so it’s impossibly sharp. From tip to wooden handle, this knife is handmade using the same methods and materials Windmuehlenmesser used in 1922 — a time before industrial innovations started sacrificing quality for speed.
Shaped for carving turkeys, legs of lamb, pot roasts and the like, the Tranchelard (French for “carving knife”) lets you gracefully maneuver these show-piece meats, and the razor sharp edge means you don’t have to resort to strenuous hacking or sawing motions — it just glides straight through the meat.
Windmuehlenmesser’s unique taper grind makes for a very, very thin blade. It gets continuously sharper and thinner from rib to cutting edge, letting you slice meats thinner and cleaner.
Carbon steel is the cast iron of knives, meaning it stains and takes a bit of up-keep to keep it from rusting. But in return you get a better performing kitchen tool. It clocks in at HRC 60 on the Rockwell hardness scale, so it’s harder than chisels, stainless steel knives and axes. A hard blade means it can be ground to a sharper edge that stays sharp longer.
Windmuehlenmesser has been making knives by hand since 1872 in Solingen, Germany. The city built its reputation hundreds of years ago as a sword-making town, and to this day it’s still illegal to sully the city’s name by making a bad knife (or sword).
The knife is blue-glaze finished, an ancient technique that’s fallen by the wayside because it takes time, skill and craftsmanship to execute. But it improves the knife’s cutting quality and makes the edge more durable — all good things. Windmeuhlenmesser’s master grinder, Wilfried Fehrekampf, does all the blue-glaze grinding himself, but is also training apprentices so this skill doesn’t die with him.
The Tranchelard has an elegant narrow bolster (the area where the blade meets the handle), so it’s lighter and easier to wield.
The knife comes with a bottle of edible mineral oil. A bit of this rubbed into the blade helps keep it from rusting.
Hand wash and dry the knife immediately after use. Don't leave carbon steel knives in standing water, and, like all knives, don't put this in the dishwasher (it degrades the edge prematurely).
Rub a bit of edible mineral oil into the blade after washing, and occasionally into the handle
A dark protective patina will naturally form on the blade. This doesn't affect the food or the knife's performance. If you want to bring the shine back, rub it with a bit of Windmuehlenmesser's rust eraser. When the knife begins to dull, send the knife to a reputable professional sharpener. The frequency of professional sharpening varies with how often you use it, but don't wait until it is already dull.
Use this knife for carving large pieces of meat-- the Thanksgiving turkey, the Christmas goose, and every leg of lamb, crown roast and brined pork loin in between.
Always cut against the grain-- this results in more tender meat. Take a close look at the meat and see which direction the muscle fibers are going (they'll all be going in one direction). Make your slices perpendicular to the this.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind when carving:
Rest the meat. The tenderness of a well-cooked dish can be compromised if it isn't rested properly. Tent it with foil and rest for 10-30 minutes (depending on size) let the juices redistribute, so there's some in every bite instead of it all spilling out onto the cutting board.
Use a carving board. Some juices will escape as you carve the meat, so use a board with a little moat along the edge, or a regular board set into a rimmed cookie sheet.
Hone the knife. This is the intermediary step between serious sharpenings that straightens the microscopic teeth of a knife. Sharper knives are more fun to cut with.
Cut only what you need for the meal. Un-cut meat retains its juiciness better.
Windmuehlenmesser, the company that makes these knives, believe above all else that a good knife has to be made by hand. This line of knives is made with the same techniques and materials used in 1922.
Many modern, industrially-made knives are punched out of sheets of metal like sugar cookies, but these knives are drop-forged by giant hammers that slam down to form bricks of metal into knife blanks. In Solingen, you can feel the ground shake when these hammers are working.
The blanks are then hand-ground by skilled craftsman to achieve the distinctive taper shape that gives Windmuehlenmesser knives that thin, razor sharp edge. Then Wilfried Fehrekampf, master grinder, gets in there to give the knife that fine blue-glaze finish.
The plum wood handles are gathered from Austrian hillsides and carved in Windmuehlenmesser's own woodshop.
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