Mike Fay is the President of the Mid Atlantic Barbecue Association. He is also the pit master for his own barbecue team Aporkalypse Now. In his spare time, he cooks with Jack’s Old South BBQ Team. When he is not cooking BBQ, he is thinking BBQ. So it is of no surprise to me that when he contacted the folks at Wusthof knifes with an idea he had for developing a knife for use by competition BBQ teams, they were more than receptive.
When Mike asked me to test drive the new knife I was a bit apprehensive as I am a self proclaimed electric knife kind of guy. I will freely admit, anytime I need to slice, if possible the Cuisinart is coming out. So what I am saying here is the test is being conducted by a manual slicer challenged person or MSCP for short. I guess in today’s politically correct world it is still ok to refer to one as slicer challenged, if not, I apologize in advance for any of you who may be offended. For those that are not offended, just give me a minute, I’ll get around to you sooner or later.
First few tidbits from the designer, the knife is “34cm (14inch) long thin bladed slider 54mm deep at the heel with a radius cutting edge hollow ground to reduce drag. The advantage to the radius is that the whole blade edge isn’t engaging the object to be sliced at the same time allowing for even less drag, yet still making a continuous cut with no saw markings.”
Mike goes on to say, “The other plus to the radius design on the blade is that when you make a draw cut (pull the blade toward you) the physiology of your arm causes your elbow to lift up, causing you to change the angle of attack of the blade. On a straight traditional slicer you either end up cutting with the very tip of the blade or break your wrist to allow the blade to remain flat, reducing your leverage. The radius blade allows you to maintain maximum leverage by not having to break your wrist while the cutting edge still tracks parallel to the food.”
I don’t know about all of that arm tracking and angle of attack on the meat but here is what I do know. I cooked a brisket flat and pork butt to act as test specimens for my scientific experimentation. I first tried my hand with the brisket. Keeping in mind I am self admitted MSCP. I was able to slice the brisket into various thicknesses with one draw of the knife, from very thin to, as contest cuts go, very thick. Mike had told me the knife was designed to cut on the draw, not going forward.
I did find it necessary to hold my thumb in the vicinity of the cut on the side of the meat closest to my body to avoid tearing the bark. I found with a little practice, I was able to produce slices of even thickness, all with just on stroke, just like he said. The same held true when I cut the pork. I first sliced the money muscle, then a few other choice muscles, all with similar results.
Being from Maryland and a proponent of pit beef sandwiches I thought what the heck, why not give the blade a go on a nice hunk of pit cooked top round. Years ago, at the numerous “Bull Roasts” held around the State, the ONLY way to slice the beef was with a blade. Knife skills were needed to get thin slices and those using an electric meat slicer were thought to be serving lesser product. In the past 15-20 years most pit beef cookers have all went to deli slicers. With this move knife skills for most went away as well.
I am happy to report the “Big Meat Slicer” tore through the top round like a champ. The knife turned out mound after mound of prime sandwich slices. That is, once I got the hang of it. After using the product for a day or two it seemed even I, a known MSCP, could slice meat like the butchers of yesteryear. That is really saying something, about the knife I mean.
Overall, the knife performed as advertised if not better in my humble opinion. With a little practice, even I was able to turn out a decent slice, time after time. My only suggestion would be to include in the accompanying paperwork some instruction noting the knife is designed to cut on the back stroke. If you purchase one, be sure to add an order for a large sized blade cover, chances are, you won’t have anything large enough in your current knife bag, this thing is the Ultimate Big Meat Slicer for sure.
Wusthof Ultimate Big Meat Slicer
Available at www.mabbqa.com
George Hensler – Who Are Those Guys Blog