Need a cleaver that can chop through pork ribs.
I'm currently shopping for a meat cleaver that can help me chop up pork ribs. Those are the biggest bones I'll probably ever cut up in my kitchen. I'm considering the Dexter-Russell 7 inch stainless steal heavy duty cleaver and was wondering if that would be a good choice for this task?
I'd also love to hear other recommendations as well if there are better choices out there. My mother owns an old Chinese cleaver that chops through pork ribs like a dream. She brought it back from Hong Kong years ago. I tried to buy one for myself from a Chinese grocery store and that thing can't even chop chicken bones properly despite applying all my strength to it!
That knife, or just about any half-decent Western meat cleaver would work.
Chinese cleavers can come in several styles. The majority of them are very thin and are actually designed for slicing and not at all for rough work, so it's not surprising that the cleaver you bought at a Chinese grocer wasn't up to the task.
This Chinese cleaver, on the other hand, would very easily mow through pork bones.
As would this one:
Beef bones are typically harder and often need a saw to safely cut.
I have a large Chinese cleaver, but I wouldn't want to chop a pork rib in half with it. When I want short ribs for an appetizer dish, the butcher will saw the rack in half. It's much neater.
I know you didn't ask, but just to be save. Sometime it can be useful to have a hammer. "Chinese cleaver" is a very general term. It covers thin blade slicer which are as delicate as a paring knife to thick blade chopper which can rival most meat cleavers.
If you ever get a chance to see knives like the KF14XX knives... those are pretty good:
Of course, there are many other as well.
Do not use a Japanese meat cleaver. Mine has a half moon almost through the damascene due to a pork rib. A very expensive and humiliating lesson.
I use a heavy European meat cleaver in the kitchen. When butchering for myself, a sawzall with the paint removed from the blade does a great job.
I have the 8" version but it hasn't been through a proper workout yet. I have no doubt that the 7" model will do what you want. I just decided on the 8" because it was in the middle between the 9" and 7 ".
Even if you do a good job with a heavy cleaver, I think you're still likely to shatter a lot of bones and then have to deal with fragments. If you're talking about slicing a rack cross-bone, I'd try to get a butcher to do it with a band saw.
I have an el cheapo heavy Chinese cleaver that looks like a CCK but only cost $10. I've used it to remove the chine bone off of ribs before. It works for that but it's kind of a PITA- either use a hammer to drive or put a hefty amount of body weight on it.
One thing - even though the sharpness of a cleaver isn't quite as important as that of a regular slicing knife, the cleaver needs to be reasonably sharp to work well, especially with flexible bones like ribs. So before you spend a lot of money on a new cleaver, you might want to ask your mother how she sharpens hers and give that a try. (And even new knives aren't necessarily as sharp as they should be when you first get them.)
Failing that, I've been able to cut up small veal bones with a carbon steel cleaver slightly larger but otherwise similar to the one you linked, so I imagine that one would work on pork rib bones. I also have cheap but fairly heavy stainless Chinese cleaver that would probably do it, using a mallet too. (Be careful about using a hammer/mallet, though, I've seen many cheap cleavers that look much too flimsy to safely hit with a mallet!)
A cleavers use is about the edge shape not so much the overall size.
A boning cleaver has a strong edge that is closer to a hatchet/axe than a kitchen knife. Look from the side and you see it has an wide convex edge for sheer strength.
A Chem has pointed out many chinese cleavers are really vegetable or slicing knife edges with more narrow angles and steel near the edge and are not for hacking through bone. There are bone cleavers in the asian markets but you need to read the labels and examine the edge profile.
So many chinese vegetable cleavers suffer abuse due to the appearance it is sad.