Leave it to (the) cleaver
Designed to take abuse, a meat cleaver is ideal for tough jobs that might wear down the blade of your chef’s knife, such as cutting through bone-in poultry and meat, whole lobsters, or butternut squash. But that’s not all: The flat side of the cleaver’s blade can be used to smash aromatics, including garlic, ginger, and lemon grass. You can even use a cleaver to transfer chopped food from the cutting board to the cooking vessel. Our tastings and testings team found one cleaver that merited this accolade: “a nearly flawless synthesis of strength, sharpness, durability, and maneuverability.”
Shun Classic Meat Cleaver
Winner - Highly Recommended
Reviewed in Cook’s Illustrated November 2017
This meat cleaver put grace and beauty into the most barbarous tasks. Its perfectly distributed weight and long, tall, gently curved, razor-sharp blade made for truly effortless chopping. And its long, straight pakkawood handle gave us plenty of grip options, although at times its smooth surface got a little slick. Yes, this cleaver is expensive—but you’ll never need another. Strong and durable, it breezed through testing with minimal wear.
Material: High-carbon stainless steel Weight: 15oz Blade Angle: 16˚ Handle: Ebony PakkaWood D-shape
How we tested meat cleavers
We purchased 13 cleavers and put them to the test, chopping 4 pounds of chicken wings and 5 pounds of chicken leg quarters, cutting butternut squashes into quarters, and breaking down whole roast ducks, cutting them into serving-size pieces. We asked five test cooks with different hand sizes, dominant hands, and levels of butchering experience to chop 1 pound of chicken parts with each knife. We also asked two professional butchers to evaluate and test each knife.
Winning Traits of the Shun Classic Meat Cleaver
• Fairly long, tall blade
• Medium weight, evenly balanced between handle and blade
• Relatively thick spine
• Thin, slightly curved edge
• Comfortable, durable handle