Meat Cleaver

Meat Cleaver

Actually this knife is used on bones not meat. It's very useful for splitting bones for use in making soup stock. About the stupidest thing I've ever read about knives is, "It's not important for a meat cleaver to be sharp". The hell it isn't! The edge of your Meat Cleaver should be stoned as sharp as any other knife, just at a steeper angle to make a more durable edge. The last thing you want is a dull cleaver that skids rather than bites - sending heavy bones flying across your kitchen into the delicate glassware you inherited from your great grandmother.

The photo specimen is an 8 inch model by J.A.Henckels of Germany. It's continued usability attests to its quality - it spent my vegetarian decade embedded in a eucalyptus stump out behind the house, where I had attempted to use it to cut kindling. It didn't work well at all for that purpose - hatchet strongly recommended.

I strongly recommend that in the home kitchen you do not use the meat cleaver in the manner butchers do. Instead place the (properly sharpened) edge where you want it on the bone and drive it through with a soft faced mallet, just as I recommend with the Chinese Cleaver Knife. A 3/4 to 1 pound soft faced mallet will do the job.

When splitting bones, do so on a very strong, steady hardwood or plastic cutting surface, and always split lengthwise. Bones are very difficult to break crosswise. Have the area clear, because you may have some fragments flying around (much less if you use the mallet as described above),

kn_cleavz 091115   -
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