Corn tortillas are easy to make at home, especially if you use a tortilla press (instead of a rolling pin) to flatten the balls of masa, or dough, into disks. (Tortilla presses are only for corn, not flour, tortillas, as the gluten in the wheat flour is too elastic and would not work in a press. Flour tortillas must be shaped with a rolling pin.) We tested four brands, made of wood, cast iron, cast aluminum, and plastic and priced from $14 to $65, pressing a dozen tortillas in each (and then browning them in a skillet). We noted the amount of force required with each press, the diameter of the pressing surface, and the thickness of the tortillas. Because our recipe calls for the press to be lined with a cut zipper-lock bag, neither sticking nor cleanup was an issue: A quick wipe with a damp cloth was the extent of the cleaning required.
The biggest difference was in the evenness of the tortillas and the amount of effort required to press them. The heavy cast-iron and wood models practically flattened the tortilla for us, while the lighter-weight cast-aluminum and plastic models required more muscle. Both of our purchased copies of the plastic tortilla press were warped, resulting in tortillas that were too thick or thin in different spots. We preferred presses with a large pressing surface; on smaller presses dough sometimes squeezed out the sides if the dough ball wasn’t perfectly centered. Some presses lent themselves to overpressing, making the sides of the tortilla too thin and liable to tear. Our favorite press had a sliver of wood attached to the pressing plates that kept the tortillas from getting too thin.
In the end, our winner, a handsome, rustic wooden press, was weighty enough (almost 12 pounds) to make pressing effortless; had an ample 8-inch pressing surface; and made even tortillas. If $65 is too steep, we recommend our runner-up, which offered good heft and almost 8 inches of pressing surface.
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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