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Chat Leftovers: Any way you slice it

Welcome to Wednesday, always a fun day for a couple of reasons. First, there's our weekly Free Range chat, a great give-and-take in which you can ask us whatever culinary questions are on your mind. And then tonight there's Episode 7 of "Top Chef: D.C.," which will be followed tomorrow by our live post-show video wrapup. If you haven't been catching that, make it a point to see it. Sometimes I'm not sure which I like better, Bravo's show or ours.

Remember, join us at 1 today, and bring your questions. Like this one, which we couldn't get to in a previous chat:

I saw a mini hand mandoline for sale and wondered: For someone who does a lot of slicing of veggies, are such devices actually useful? Or are they too small/too cheap to be reliable?

I'm a big fan of small, inexpensive slicers, and I think there's definitely a place for one in the kitchen. But shop carefully, because this is a piece of equipment that can do real damage if it doesn't work right.

I've had several good V-slicers, the ones with a blade in the shape of a V. They cut thick and thin slices, plus large and small julienne. Each worked great for a few years, after which time the blade became dull and I had to get rid of them. But because they cost less than $30, I thought they were worth it; I do a lot of slicing. One, a Borner, seemed sharper than the others.

Real Entertaining columnist David Hagedorn has extolled the virtues of Japanese-style slicers, which looks a lot like a V-slicer except a straight blade is set on the diagonal. He uses the Progressive International Multi-Slicer; you can find it at online merchants, sometimes for less than $12.

One very inexpensive mandoline, made by Oxo, has gotten a lot of buzz ever since it was introduced a few years ago. At $50 or not much more, it's way cheaper than other mandolines. But I'm sorry I bought mine. The blade is so dull that I feel like I'm risking amputation every time I use it on something even a little hard, like an apple. For something like a turnip or potato? Forget it. This model has legions of fans, but I'm not among them.

So I say, buy a V- or Japanese-style slicer. Pay attention to the reviews that are found everywhere online these days. Avoid injury by always using the hand guard; or you can buy a special glove designed to protect your hand from cuts. Then start slicing away, and pretty soon you'll wonder how you ever lived without one.

-- Jane Touzalin

By Jane Touzalin  |  July 28, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chat Leftovers  | Tags: Chat Leftovers, Free Range, Jane Touzalin  
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I have the Hand Held OXO slicer which I love for making salads. Easy to store and ready to use without setting up. I can hold it over the salad bowl and slice onions, carrots celery, cukes, radishes, etc. quickly and neatly. It stores easily in the utensil drawer and the hand guard locks over the blade for safety.
The slicer is narrower than the one that sets on the counter, but for most uses it is fine. Large onions have to be cut in half. After 2 years the blade is still sharp. And OXO will replace it, if any parts fail.

Posted by: kathy32 | July 28, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I highly recommend the small Kyocera slicers with a ceramic blade. I have a big conventional mandoline and don't think I have pulled it out once in the past year since I have had the Kyocera slicer. I just recently bought their julienne slicer too. They are super sharp, so be careful! I had a near miss that ended in one less fingernail. I bought cut-proof gloves when I bought the julienne slicer. But, if you pay attention and don't try to go too fast, it's not that dangerous until you end near the end of whatever you are slicing.

Posted by: SweetieJ | July 28, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

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