Recommended mandoline?

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Recommended mandoline?

I used to listen to all the free culinary school podcasts and have since been away a while, but I have learned more from this single website than anywhere else on the internet about cooking.  So, I thought I should come back for some advice from people I know really know what they're talking about!

I am trying to select a Mandoline, my wife asked for one for Christmas.  I know many of us would rather work on our knife skills but she is not as much into cooking and would like something capable of speeding up slicing for salad, ratatouille, french fries etc.  

I'm considering the Bron Original stainless steel (some reviews claim this is excellent for hard vegetables, but poor for tomatoes), the Benriner (reviews say excellent for soft vegetables but binds up for potatoes, and limited thickness possible) or even the OXO brand (v-blade all plastic model, or the full stainless model that's heavier and I'm guessing will flex less making more consistent thickness, though some say the quality is not equal to the Bron).  

Can anyone offer their opinion on these?  It almost sounds like I need 2, one for soft vegetables and another for hard ones.

Jacob Burton
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If you really want to drop the big bucks you can get the Shun Mandoline for around $399. I've never actually used one, but almost all my knives are Shun because it's a brand I know and trust. I'm sure the quality of their mandoline is no different.

You'll commonly find the Mui Stainless Steel Mandoline in professional kitchens, but the real work horse is the generic Japanese Mandolin. They're not that great for doing French fries or julienne cuts, but they are rarely used for that anyway. The reason is, serrated blades will eventually get dull and are a pain to sharpen. A mandoline can still help you julienne by first slicing a precise thickness and then cutting by hand the julienne strips.

Because of the slicing motion of just about all mandolines, ripe fruit is better cut by hand, especially ripe tomatoes. V-Slicers to tend to be better at slicing ripe tomatoes then traditional mandolins, but it seems a little silly to buy a V-Slicer just for your tomatoes (unless your culinary world revolves around thinly sliced tomatoes, then, party on!).

One little side note; I've never used a mandoline with a hand guard that wasn't awkward, annoying or just plain useless. This leads to people abandoning the hand guard completely which will lead to one of the nastiest cuts of their life. I've had more then one cook go to the ER after a mandoline decided to fight back. Since the hand guards are annoying to use, I recommend one of these protective gloves instead.
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CANHomeCook
Thanks for the feedback.  that's a good point that julienne can easily be accomplished by cutting the slices.  Unfortunately though I'm generally one to spend money on quality, the Shun is just more than I can justify.  

I think I'll consider the generic japanese model you linked.  I read that it does not make very thick slices though, so I guess we'd be limited to shoestring fries if using for that purpose.
Nina
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About 20 or so years ago I purchased a Bron, and I still love it.   It is as sharp today as when I bought it.  Guests are always baffled when you top a bowl of vichyssoise with a waffle cut fried potato slice. The julienne cut is also beautiful.
Also, America's Test Kitchen rated Bron the best "classic style", as opposed to V- slicers, for that they liked V- slicers made by Progressive and Target.
The test kitchen did not rate Shun, they couldn't afford it.  ;)

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labradors
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In the restaurant where I worked, we had a pair of Brons and I loved them so much I went right out and bought one. I got a new one for $80 on eBay and have never regretted the decision. I've never tried it on tomatoes - just never thought of it, but it's great for carrots, potatoes, zucchini, etc. It's also one of the tools I made sure I brought with me when I moved here from the States. Just didn't want to be without it.
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Jacob Burton
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That's two solid votes for the Bron; that might be a good direction to go.
labradors
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How well do those mandoline gloves fit? My hands are pretty big (though not huge) and sometimes I have trouble with gloves that are "one size fits all."
Jacob Burton
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Honestly, they fit horribly and are a pain to use. But when it comes to using a mandoline without the hand guard, it's only a matter of time until you cut yourself badly, but it usually only happens once. After that first cut, you develop a healthy respect for the mandoline's wrath. I've had my one time and most of the people on my crew have too.

I think the glove is less of a hassle then the actual hand guard though. I have big ape hands and I can still get one of these things to fit, although I prefer to take my chances with the emergency room.
CANHomeCook
Bron it is!  thank you everyone.  I was definitely planning on a cut resistant glove.

labradors
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Have fun! Now you have me wanting to run out and make some Scalloped Potatoes!
Nina
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Too funny Labs, I just made scalloped potatoes last week.  It's not something that I do often so it becomes memorable,  my new favorite thing to do to lighten them up is to add a sliced fennel bulb, along with an equal amount of sliced onion (sauted first).  The whole thing came about because I had fennel.

@ CANHomecook I have thought of buying a glove for the mandoline but then forget about it, and honestly, being a home cook, it's just one more uni-tasker thing to store and clean.  What I use is an oven mitt.  I have one that is made of silicone and is not bulky, keep your fingers straight, and off you go! Your health insurance company will thank you.

Enjoy your new toy!
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I use a Matfer Mandoline 2000 and like it, but really have never used another brand so maybe there is something I'm missing.

On a related topic -- I saw Jacques Pepin advocating the other day that a guard is both inconvenient and unnecessary on a STRAIGHT-BLADED mandoline as long as one pushes the food with the palm of the hand versus using fingers..  Several of my fingers are about 1/4 inch shorter than they once were (and no fingerprints either) due to the mandoline.  Pepin showed him pushing a potato right down to the last slice with his palm and getting no cuts.  Was he engaging in visual trickery... or has anyone else used this technique.  I'm too scared to try it.
Nina
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 When the vege is getting small I do use my palm Brian and still fear that blade!  

labradors
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Good idea about the oven mitt, Nina. I'll have to try that. At least that will give me SOMEthing to do with my oven mitts, since I've never found one that protected my hands from hot pans as well as the folded-towel method I learned in the restaurant.

Not sure I'd trust my bare palm to a mandoline. the muscles around my thumb are pretty meaty, and I could easily imagine that that part of my hand would still be exposed once the vegetable has already passed the blade.
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I don't use a guard or a glove when using a mandoline or a grater and use the palm of my hand. When I'm getting down to the end I slow down. It's speed that will cut you.
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CANHomeCook
Thanks for the advice.  I already ebayed a cut-resistant glove, though I appreciate the silicone oven mitt suggestion I don't have one so I'd have to buy that too.  

Nina
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Let us know how the glove works for you.  Remember, you can always get a job as an MJ impersonator ( oh, groan ).

Zalbar
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They're also good when butchering large muscles. That's the one time I do wear the glove.
labradors
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That's why I asked about the glove: so I WON'T butcher a large muscle - in my thumb!
CANHomeCook
butchering large muscles?  are you saying you slice your meat on a mandoline?  like for carpaccio or??

Zalbar
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I meant that I wear the glove (the one I use is made of metal links) when I'm taking the big pieces of meat with bones,  and then butchering them into steaks and ribs and pork chops, etc. I don't trust myself all that much and sometimes you have to press hard or scrape and things can slip when hitting or cutting through bone. I've already lopped off a part of a finger, don't need to take any more off. The medical term for that is partial amputation. Learning is fun I kept telling myself as I was bleeding all over the cutting board.



The above should give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Full disclosure, that's just a picture I grabbed off the web, i <3 u google.

Once animals have been halved and quartered, they're broken up into their big pieces and you cut them up into their serving portions. I really enjoy the butchering aspect and learning. The problem I have is that I don't get a whole lot of practice because it's expensive and they can't afford to have me completely ripping apart an entire side of beef so I can get better. That's one of the benefits of culinary school. You get to play with all those big expensive proteins.

This leaves me with having to do it at home (I will occasionally buy 1 large section) and eating a LOT of pork or beef that week. Luckily, I like both and it lets me come up with interesting ways of preparing it.

Now....about that mandoline...
Nina
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WOW!! Those are some some beautiful cuts! A funny picture would be to have a mandoline in there somewhere. The size of it next to that whole leg ! hahaha.

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I am interested to hear more about the bron and waffle fries. i cant for the life of me figure out how they make real thick waffle fries, i tried it on a few mandolins it always comes out to thin, like a potato chip.

hmmm

 

Any insight?

 

~Moishe

Jacob Burton
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With some of the nicer mandolines you can set the slicing blade pretty wide, but hand slicing waffle fries for 200 people will be a nightmare. I would call around to a local dry foods purveyor and see if they carry the frozen ones and will let you pick them up and pay cash. If you can't find them pre-frozen, I would probably go with another side. Waffle fries on a mandoline for 50, yeah, maybe. But for 200, (assuming this is related to this post), would be quite the undertaking.

CANHomeCook

I have not yet tried waffle cuts, but I'd like to thank those who recommended the Bron.  Though my wife would have preferred something more simple (and horrible, like starfrit), now she is getting used to it and appreciates its extreme ease of cutting anything.  I think I'll have to try something waffle cut soon to impress the guests.  maybe some sweet potatoes. hmm.

 

It's easy to clean, incredibly durable and sharp.  It's heavy and a bit cumbersome but that also means very stable for use with harder vegetables.  I find the cut-resistant glove works great for keeping me safe, it gives very reasonable dexterity and is FAR easier than the guard, I have not even bothered to try it.

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That was my first job in the kitchen interning, that and shelling shrimp.  Monotonous but it helped me function as a focused team member. This was at the Bel-air Bay Club years ago.

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BadmfChef
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I travel with a oxo v cut lightweight easy to adjust and I use a glove when working in a rush, (when am I not, lol)

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