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The Best Kitchen Tool You're Not Using? Scissors

04/09/2015 01:23 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015
Chelsea Kyle / Food styling by Rhoda Boone

By Sheela Prakash, Epicurious

Think scissors are only for arts and crafts? Hardly. Rhoda Boone, our Epicurious Food Editor, relies on a good pair of kitchen shears to do a whole lot of things knives can do, but better. It's an inexpensive tool that's essential in a well-stocked kitchen--easier to manage and safer than that razor sharp chef's knife. Just be sure to treat your shears right: Rhoda says, "Cutting packaging and paper can dull my nice, sharp kitchen shears, so I keep a pair of regular scissors around for those jobs."

Rhoda recommends getting a pair that comes apart, like a pair by Wustoff, which makes them easy to clean. She also likes these Joyce Chen shears, which feature tapered blades that are great for small jobs like trimming fat off meat or snipping herbs.

Here are just a few of our favorite ways to use shears:

SNIP FRESH HERBS AND LEAFY GREENS
The easiest way to pull thyme leaves off their stems is to strip them off their stems with your fingers, right? Yeah, well, that rarely works--the tender stem breaks more often than not. Next time, take scissors to the leaves and snip them off the stems. Use scissors to quickly chop pretty much any tender herbs: chives, parsley, basil, whatever. Or use them to cut leafy greens into bite-size pieces for a salad.

BREAK DOWN A CHICKEN AND TRIM OFF FAT
Sure, you can pick up chicken parts at a butcher or grocery store, but it's much more cost efficient to buy a whole chicken and butcher it yourself. Using kitchen shears to cut through the meat and joints of the bird is not only easier than using a knife, it's much safer. Then use the shears to trim away any unwanted fat.

CUT PIZZA, FOCACCIA, AND MORE
If you've ever visited Rome and sampled the city's popular popular pizza al taglio, which is sold in rectangular or square slices by weight, then you've had a pair of scissors-sliced pizza before. Who says you can't slice your pie at home with them, too? Shears are also perfect for cutting focaccia or a gooey quesadilla.

TURN A CAN OF WHOLE TOMATOES INTO CHOPPED TOMATOES
The last time I tried to break up whole canned tomatoes with my hands juice squirted in all directions, resulting in a stained shirt and a late-night run out for stain remover. Don't do what I did. Instead, put the blades of kitchen shears right into the open can and chop up the tomatoes before you empty the can.

SLICE BACON INTO LARDONS
Lardons are a fancy French word for bacon cut into small, matchstick-size strips. Go old school in a classic French salad Lyonnaise or new school in a kale and Brussels sprouts salad. The same goes for pancetta, or use your shears to cut prosciutto into strips for pasta.

TRIM OFF VEGETABLES ENDS
Use kitchen shears to ease your vegetable prep: snip of the ends of green beans, stalky asparagus stems, and the sharp pointed ends of artichoke leaves.

MAKE CHIPS!
How to get tortillas or pita rounds into pretty little triangles before turning them into chips? Yep, kitchen shears.

CUT UP DRIED FRUIT
Dried figs, apricots, and prunes can be a gooey nightmare to cut up with a knife--kitchen shears eliminate all of that.