Perhaps the most recognizable piece of cutlery, a meat cleaver is not just for Hollywood horror films. In the commercial kitchen, this knife is used to chop large slabs of raw meat into smaller portions, open lobsters and cut poultry joints. Cleavers are essentially the axes of the kitchen, and their shape caters to this use. The heavy, square shaped blades are attached to a proportionately short handle. The design allows the butcher to apply more force to the piece of meat. As with all knives, a well maintained, razor sharp edge in order to function most effectively. This is especially important for meat cleavers because a day’s worth of chopping can significantly dull down the blade. Use a butcher steel to hone the edge of your cleaver.
When the time comes for you to choose a cleaver for your chef knife set, don’t forget to consider whether you will need a forged steel blade, this type of meat cleaver is much stronger because it has a full tang, where the metal of the knife blade runs the length of the knife handle, so it is better suited to heavy duty chopping such as when butchering a larger animal. Also, consider whether you would like to use a cleaver with a wood handle, or a plastic one. There a specific benefits to both, wood handled meat cleavers are beautiful, if this knife is to be used in view of customers choose this type. For your everyday kitchen workhorse, however, you will want a cleaver with a plastic or nylon handle because it is resistant to bacterial growth and the lighter weight will prevent wrist injuries to the operator.
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