Christopher Kimball: Lots of home cooks have all the gadgets [waves hands in enthusiasm]—stuff you plug in. Hundreds of dollars—mixers, food processors, frothers for milk, maybe even a bread machine. But sometimes they don’t have the basics [camera pans in on boning knives on the counter], like a boning knife, and they don’t know how to use them. So I’m here with Adam in the Equipment Corner, who’s tested boning knives, and will tell us which one he likes.
AR: You’re right, Chris. Boning knives are the perfect tool for a couple of different things. For, say, boning out chickens, for cleaning up a rack of pork or of lamb when you cut the fat off the bones, for trimming the silver skin off of a tenderloin or a roast, or I also use them for making cutlets if I’m cutting my own cutlets from a turkey breast or a chicken breast. And you can see [points toward blade] that it’s a very narrow blade. That reduces the drag against the meat, makes it easy to cut through [sets knife back onto counter]. We tested six different boning knives here [motions toward knives on counter], with a pretty dramatic price difference. The least expensive was about $20. The most expensive was this [picks up knife from counter] gorgeous samurai sword of a knife at about $180.
CPK: That’s an odd shape [points at knife in AR’s hand].
AR: It certainly is. In fact, testers, didn’t really like this one much because of the curvature of the blade. They preferred straighter blades [sets knife back onto counter]. Now, I’ll say first that the edge on all of the blades, the sharpness out of the box from the factory was excellent, very good. We had no issues there. One issue with blades that did develop after some testing was the flexibility. [picks up second knife] You can see that this knife [pushes side of blade gently against countertop to demonstrate its flexibility] actually has a lot of flex to it. And I want you to try that. [Hands knife to CPK who repeats motion with blade on a cutting board that has a cooked chicken breast on it] Take that knife to the chicken and carve this breast. It’s very flexible.
CPK: So I assume part of using a knife is you can sort of feel the whole blade and have control over it.
AR: Right, exactly. [CPK begins slicing chicken breast on cutting board] It’s all about control.
CPK: Yeah, it sort of feels like this part of the blade [stops slicing and gestures toward blade], you don’t even know it’s there. [Begins to slice chicken breast again]
AR: Feels a little bit erratic. That’s what some of our testers said. We actually preferred knives whose blades were a little more rigid. [Picks up first knife from counter and gently presses side of blade into counter as before] You want some flex, because you have to get between the joints and around small bones. But this one’s more rigid than that, and I want you to give that a try. [Hands knife to CPK]
CPK: I like it. The handle’s also a little bigger. You can feel like you can control it better. [Begins slicing chicken breast]
AR: We had a range of testers use these knives, and people really responded well to this handle. People with different sized hands all liked it.
CPK: [Slices completely through chicken breast] Yeah, that’s nice.
AR: Much easier to use, isn’t it?
CPK: Yeah, well, you can see the two blades. [Presses the sides of the first and second knives into the counter to demonstrate flex differential]
AR: Yep. Most of the testing—you can see in this clip [inset footage of boning out chicken]—was boning out chickens and turkeys. And once we had done a chicken or a turkey and our hands got a little bit slick from the fat of the bird, that really illuminated a second very important point with these knives, which is the handle itself. You may want to pick up this handle [points toward knife with more flex and smaller handle that CPK used first to slice through chicken breast], for instance. [CPK picks up knife and weighs handle in palm] That’s a smooth handle. And with a slick hand it doesn’t feel quite secure enough.
CPK: [Holding knife] No, it’s not safe.
AR: Not safe, exactly. [CPK places knife back onto counter] We preferred handles [CPK picks up knife with larger handle and weighs in palm] that were a little grippier, a little bigger, felt more secure in the hand, like that one.
CPK: Yeah, this is nice. [Touches handle with other hand] This… what is this, polypropylene, or what is this handle?
AR: That’s [points at knife in CPK’s hand] called Fibrox. That’s a trademark of the company that makes it. And that’s [CPK presses blade against cutting board as before] actually our winning knife. I have one here [picks up knife from counter] also. This is the Forschner by Victorinox. It’s the six-inch boning knife. It’s got great sharpness, the perfect amount of rigidity and flexibility, a very secure, safe handle, and it was the least expensive one we tested at just $20.
CPK: It’s a deal. Well, Forschner also makes one of our favorite chef’s knives at, like, 25 bucks.
CPK: So Forschner wins again—$20 six-inch boning knife, great handle, stiff blade. It’s a bargain.
View the full report of our Boning Knives testing.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH
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