Stovetop smokers, which smoke meat and other foods indoors, are metal vessels fitted with a wire rack set over a drip tray and covered with a lid. To see how they compare with outdoor smokers, we cooked salmon fillets and whole chickens on four models (priced from roughly $40 to $100), evaluating the smokers on the quality of the foods’ smoky flavor and how easy they were to use and clean.
Smoke flavor and cook times were more or less equal across the board; the difference mainly boiled down to ease of use. On the plus side, indoor smokers use special fine wood chips (sold separately) that don’t require soaking. Size, though a manageable obstacle, is where they came up short. All four smokers (designed to rest over a single burner) fit just four fish fillets, and only those with domed (versus flat) lids could house a whole bird. For the others, we crimped aluminum foil over the chickens per the manufacturers’ instructions, which worked fine.
Cleanup was a challenge with some smokers. All were somewhat discolored after the first use (think of the inside of a grill), but one model needed much more scrubbing than others to remove baked-on soot. And although smokers with nonstick surfaces were easier to clean, they also scratched easily, and the nonstick surface wasn’t necessary anyway: We were able to make traditional surfaces just as nonstick using vegetable oil spray. We preferred racks that had parallel—rather than gridlike—wires because grids trapped food. Lining the drip tray with foil, as one manufacturer instructed, made cleanup easier with all of the smokers. Ultimately, we preferred smokers with flat lids like that of our winner, whose promise of clean smoke flavor, moist meat, and easy cleanup and storage made it our champion.
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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