Every good cook has a favorite knife. For some it is an impeccably honed chef's knife that can reduce an onion to confetti in a matter of seconds. For others, it is a paring knife so beloved that they do not even own a vegetable peeler. For many of us in the test kitchen, it is a perfectly balanced meat cleaver possessing a blade as sharp as a Lady Bic and as strong as a woodman's axe. But does it matter which brand?
We tested five meat cleavers for their comfort, balance, and performance while cutting through meat and bone. The tests were conducted with chicken parts and were performed by five different members of our test kitchen, possessing various hand sizes and arm strengths.
A cleaver comes in especially handy when chopping up meat and bones for a stock. It's also great when dealing with lobster. Capitalizing on the opportunity to release some stress, the testers chopped chicken wings, breasts, legs, and thighs with each cleaver and recorded their conclusions. The best of the lot featured a razor-sharp blade and perfectly balanced design that easily finished hacking jobs none of the other cleavers could tackle. For a more reasonable price, our Best Buy model offered a comfortable handle, a sharp blade, and a comparatively light weight, which made it popular among testers with less arm strength.
Of the other models tested, two provided good control, though some testers felt the squared-off handles on these models did not provide a secure grip. Bringing up the rear was a model which had two major strikes against it: It featured a wooden handle whose porous construction could cause cross-contamination, and its thick blade was not sharp enough for many testers, requiring the use of a sawing motion rather than a quick chop.
Although the meat cleaver may not be the go-to knife for carving a turkey or peeling an apple, it is certainly an invaluable tool in the kitchen. Its formidable size and weight make it a formidable adversary to even the toughest bone or shell.
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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