We wouldn’t dream of starting a charcoal fire without a chimney starter, a cylindrical canister that quickly ignite quarts of briquettes without lighter fluid (which can leave residual flavor on grilled food). You place briquettes in the large top chamber of the chimney, which is shaped like a giant metal coffee mug. Then you crumple a sheet of newspaper, place it in the smaller chamber under the coals, and light it. In about 20 minutes, the coals are covered in a fine, gray ash and ready to be poured into the grill.
Our favorite chimney holds 6 quarts, enough for most kettle grills. The handle remains cool, and when it is time to pour out the red-hot coals, a second handle provides leverage to make maneuvering easier, particularly if you are banking the coals for a two-level fire and need precise pouring. Since our last testing, new models have appeared. We chose three top brands to see if they could knock out our chimney champion.
Starters that held fewer than 5 quarts of coals were a deal-breaker. They were inadequate to heat the grill sufficiently even after we poured the coals, closed the lid, and waited 5 minutes. When we timed how long each chimney took to ignite all its coals, we quickly uncovered a major design flaw: Chimneys without holes on the sides of the canister had limited airflow, preventing oxygen from circulating around the coals, which slowed the heating process by a few minutes. While all of the brands had heat-resistant handles, their sturdiness varied. One felt flimsy enough to fall off—not a nice prospect when dealing with red-hot coals. Only our previous favorite had dual handles, which we distinctly preferred. Another’s silvery paint job melted off after one use, dripping down the sides of the can.
In the end, our previous favorite model was still the best performer and had it all: sturdy construction, generous capacity, heat resistance, dual handles, excellent air circulation for rapid heating, and a low price.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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