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Meat Pounder

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2008

Though now rather dated, this menacing-looking contraption reminds us of the times of the pre-electric kitchen.

This “combination kitchen tool” from the early 1900s—and somewhat menacing-looking gadget (a 6-inch-long blade attached to a 4½-inch handle)—actually played an important role in the pre-electric kitchen. By pressing a metal button near the blade face that activates a locking mechanism, the blade can turn 90 degrees so that either the blunt or the jagged edges may be employed. The blunt edge was used to tenderize tough cuts of meat. The sharper and more triangular edges served to chip ice from large ice blocks used to cool early refrigerators. When locked in its flatter position, the tool could also be used like a cleaver to chop meat or vegetables. If all these applications weren’t enough, its neck includes a working bottle opener, making this gadget the Swiss Army knife of the kitchen.

We tried out the tool, finding it did a passable job chopping onions and carrots and hacking through chicken breasts. Flipped into the upright position, it also did a decent job of tenderizing meat. But the only area where it really excelled? Breaking ice cubes into small pieces. While we’re not ready to give up our automatic ice crusher, it’s good to know there’s still a gadget around that can get the job done with simple manpower.