The meat cleaver is probably the most well-known of all the knives you have in your kitchen. It’s one of the biggest knives you’ll probably buy, and its shape might make it look like a square-bladed hatchet.
However, this knife is capable of more than just scaring your family with its size and appearance. In fact, the meat cleaver’s weight makes it ideal for slicing difficult vegetables and breaking down large amounts of meat into manageable chunks that your smaller blades can’t handle.
The point is that having a meat cleaver in your knife set has a number of advantages.
Why Purchase a Cleaver?
Why add another one—and a very large one—to your armory of sharp knives if you already have one? “While a chef’s knife is one of the most versatile blades in the kitchen, it isn’t as good as a cleaver for disjointing cuts, slicing bigger meats, or hacking bones,” Wüsthof explains. A cleaver has greater force than a chef’s knife or a santoku knife when it comes to heavier foods like squash and root vegetables.
Cleavers can be used for hammering, mincing, dicing, and slicing a range of meals in addition to breaking down tendons and bones. “The blade’s larger side may smash a garlic clove in one fast motion,” Wüsthof says. Don’t worry about the hole present on the blade of a cleaver.
What is a Meat Cleaver Used For?
Though the original duty of the meat cleaver in a butcher shop is to section big carcasses, there are a variety of current tasks for the meat cleaver in any chef’s kitchen.
If you have a well-rounded knife set, you can dice vegetables with a chef knife or a paring knife, but if you have a particularly tough-skinned vegetable, a meat cleaver can be a good alternative.
Slicing and chopping
You might be shocked to hear that a cleaver can be used to chop, slice, or even dice your vegetables in a variety of ways. You’ll want to grasp your cleaver in the second shape stated above for this activity to ensure you have the right level of control.
After cutting the vegetable with a steady downward motion, elevate the cleaver all the way off the cutting board each time before lowering it to make the next slice. A technique that is clearly different from that employed with other blades.
The capacity to easily and effectively crush specific items, such as garlic or ginger, is another useful feature of the meat cleaver. In certain cases, it’s easier to get materials this way rather than cutting them out carefully.
It is critical to place an ingredient on a cutting board and rest the wide side of the cleaver flat against it with the blade pointing away before crushing it. You can smash the component by hitting the upper side of the blade with your free hand. To avoid any accidents, hit closer to the blunt edge rather than the sharp edge.
You may effortlessly scoop up things like veggies with the cleaver’s wide blade and move them to a bowl or the stove. To do so, place the knife at a small angle next to the chopped vegetables, with the sharpest section of the blade facing away from you. Then swiftly slip the blade under the vegetables while pushing them onto the wide section of the blade with your free hand.
You’ll be able to safely transport them from point A to point B from there. To keep the ingredients from spilling, use your free hand to anchor them on top of the blade. Just make sure your free hand isn’t too close to the blade’s pointy end.
A Cleaver for Meat & Fish
After all, is said and done, the only thing you’ll want to use your meat cleaver for is meat. A meat cleaver is a multi-purpose instrument that can tenderize, mince, slice, and even weigh any meat you have on hand. This is especially useful when purchasing bone-in entire portions of beef.
Taking Meat Away From The Bone
If there’s one thing the meat cleaver is famed for, it’s its ability to effortlessly chop through bone. This is due to the way the knife is constructed. Its wide, sharp blade edge is ideal for removing meat from the bone, including fat and, if required, skin.
The meat cleaver’s blade is likewise thick and designed to handle more demanding kitchen activities. It can quickly chop through small poultry bones thanks to this feature. Furthermore, even if you have a larger, thicker piece of meat, the cleaver can still provide you with the desired cut.
You can set the sharp edge of the meat cleaver’s wide blade where you wish to cut into the piece of meat. From there, you may slice right through using the blade’s own weight and your free hand to push down on the top half of the blade.
Once you’ve mastered chopping meat from the bone with a meat cleaver, you could find that buying meat this way is both better and cheaper.
How to Scale a Fish
While scaling a fish requires a little more finesse than chopping into a large piece of meat, it can still be accomplished with the help of a meat cleaver. To give you more control, grab the cleaver using the second gripping method described above.
On a cutting board, place the fish you want to descale. With your free hand, slowly run the meat cleaver blade up and down the fish at a small angle while holding the fish head. Carry on in this manner until your fish has been successfully descaled.
How to Keep Your Cleaver Sharp
It is critical to keep your blades sharp no matter what type of knife you use in the kitchen. Always keep in mind that a sharp knife is a safe knife. There is no exemption when it comes to the meat cleaver.
It’s critical to keep your meat cleaver as sharp as possible due to frequent severe chopping and the requirement to cut through tougher flesh. If you plan to utilize your meat cleaver for more intricate work, it’s also crucial to have a sharp edge.
To accomplish this, use a whetstone to sharpen your meat cleaver blade at a 20 to 30-degree angle. The more chop work you do, the more pressure you put on the blade, and the higher the angle you should sharpen your meat cleaver at.
When used and cared for properly, a meat cleaver can rapidly become one of your most valuable culinary equipment. That is why it is critical to thoroughly comprehend how to utilize a meat cleaver and to be aware of all the advantages of including one in your knife collection.
How to Use a Meat Cleaver?
Set up Your Cutting Board First.
A butcher block isn’t required, but your board should be solid and unwarped, and it should sit securely on your counter. While using heavy cutlery, you don’t want it to slide about. (To keep the board adhered to the counter, we like to use a wet dish towel or a gripper mat underneath it.)
Decide on an Offensive Strategy.
You’ll want to use the cleaver in different ways depending on the sort of food and what you’re trying to do with it. It’s not always optimal to hack; sometimes it’s better to properly slice or split food open with the knife’s weight and leverage. If you’re halving a full roast duck, for example, you can use the cleaver like a chef’s knife, with a pinch grip and a slight rocking action to push the food through.
The cleaver’s weight makes it a versatile tool for slicing through dense meals in addition to chopping. However, chopping poultry or meat is a different story. On the cutting board, place the chicken or meat you want to chop.
If the shape is long, such as a rib or a backbone, you can use your non-dominant hand to stabilize the end. Otherwise, make sure your hand is out of the way of the blade. You might want to keep this hand behind your back so you don’t end up putting it in danger.
Use a Stronghold on the Cleaver When Chopping Poultry or Meat.
As if you were shaking hands with the handle, wrap your fingers around it. You can put your thumb on the knife’s spine for increased force and guidance—a suggestion we got from Michael Dulock, one of the butchers we spoke with for our meat cleaver review—though this requires a little extra hand strength.
Prepare, then Cut
You don’t have to get all worked up and make a huge, dramatic hacking move with your arm. Instead, let the cleaver’s weight do a lot of the job for you. The chopping motion should be initiated by your wrist. Raise your arm slightly above your elbow and then bring it down on the meal, directing the knife and applying force with your wrist. If you don’t make it all the way through, Dulock recommends hitting the food with the top third of the blade to summon extra lever power.
If you’re using a one-way grain wood cutting board, make sure you cut perpendicular to or at a little angle to the grain, or the board will split as you chop.
Allow your wrist to pivot while chopping to transmit the momentum from the cleaver’s heavy blade.
If Necessary, Slice Through a Second Time.
It may take some practice to determine how much effort is required to compensate for the cleaver’s weight. Hopefully, you used just enough to split the dish with a clean-cut, but if you need to slice through the last portions of meat or poultry, that’s acceptable.
If the cleaver becomes stuck halfway through the bone, press down on the knife’s spine with your nondominant hand to force the knife downward and finish the cut. You can attempt hacking through the same location twice, but it’s difficult to hit the identical target the second time, so you might wind up with mangled meat.
If the cleaved food is small enough, you may now lift it off the cutting board and into your stockpot or other cooking vessel using the flat of the cleaver. Simply avoid dragging the blade’s edge against the board, as this will dull it.
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