From Season 7: Streamlined Chicken Skillet Suppers
Update: September 2011
Our previous favorite, the Kapoosh 650 Universal Knife Block, had one caveat: Blades longer than 8 inches stick out. We discovered two new models—a bi-level block from Kapoosh and a newcomer from Bodum. The Kapoosh held just as many blades as its predecessor, but it wobbled and its shorter lower level shielded only 5 inches of blade. The Bodum, however, represented an upgrade: Not only did its narrow frame hold nine knives in a more compact footprint, but it completely sheathed all but a 12-inch slicer once the knives were inserted diagonally.
Do "universal" knife blocks hold knives of every shape, size, and make? We tested three models. One is a simple wooden box of tightly packed bamboo skewers meant to cradle the knives. It holds knives at an awkward 90-degree angle, and when you pull them out, unattached skewers pop up, too. It's also flimsily constructed: Three of the four we ordered arrived broken. Our second product was a bit better. It is a magnetized wooden block that grips up to 10 knives (but not ceramic ones) along its surface. Unfortunately, its grasp is almost too strong: Knives release only with a vigorous tug that makes the tall, narrow structure wobble. The best (and cheapest) of the lot comfortably shelters up to 10 tools in its dishwasher-safe nest of spaghetti-like plastic rods, and the sturdy box's opening is at an accessible angle. Though we wish it were deeper—handles of blades over 8 inches stuck out—it makes a practical home for most knives.
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.