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By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2007

Rotisserie Attachments

Published July 2007

How we tested

Spit-firing your food can seem like a daunting, if not utterly primitive, cooking technique. Adding a component to your grill that impales meat—be it Cornish game hens, leg of lamb, or (space-permitting) a whole turkey—on a metal shaft and rotates it slowly and continuously speaks little to the modern mind in terms of convenience or culinary innovation. Whether or not this method took its cue from cavemen stick-skewering meat over a fire, there was no denying the flavor benefits of superior air circulation and natural self-basting when we tasted our Cornish hens grilled on a triad of rotisseries.

Some new high-end grills come with built-in rotisseries, and a select few brands sell erroneously-tagged “universal” rotisseries; these attachments, which claim to fit “most large grills,” were immediately disqualified for fitting none of the three brands of grills stocked in the test kitchen. That being the case, we opted to furnish our top-rated gas and charcoal appliances with rotisserie attachments made by their manufacturers. Both box-style grills came rotisserie-ready with rod-cradling divots in their sides and pairs of strategically placed holes for the motor’s mounting brackets. Assembling these attachments required little more than a close read of the directions and 15 minutes of tinkering with parts. The rotisserie designed for our kettle grill was almost assembly-free.

Telltale distinctions among the three models, though relatively minor, were evident once the hens were roasting. Our winner won top honors with its crank-adjustable coal tray and the rotisserie’s four (rather than two) meat-stabilizing prongs; the cooking time was cut by about 10 minutes, and the added space between the birds allowed the hot air to circulate and render the fat in the skin completely for a crisper texture. Any of these rotisseries would be worthwhile investments; what other grilling technique permits enough walk-away time to make a salad?

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*