Its that time of year when we start to dust off our grills and fire up the good times in the backyard.
For most of us, celebrating the first BBQ session of summer starts with a turkey. It's a momentous occasion, so why not go all out and have a momentous bird? One of the best ways to cook a turkey (in my eyes) is to spatchcock it. You get an evenly cooked bird that is juicy, tender & moist. Not to mention that beautiful dark crispy skin. (Drooling)
If you are anything like me, you have battled for years to cut out the backbone as gracefully they do on those tutorial videos. However, I will let you in on a little secret. I recently discovered the power of poultry shears.
Poultry shears are a genius piece of equipment designed to easily cut through those bigger poultry bones, and make your life much, much easier.
Here are my recommendations for the best poultry shears out there right now.
What Features to Look For In Poultry Shears
An Adjustable Pivot Screw: An adjustable pivot screw is usually found on more high end- professional grade shears. However, it's an important feature. It is designed to tighten or loosen the tension for when you need to apply a lot of pressure to the shears. For example when cutting through thick bones or cartilage. Without an adjustable pivot screw, it is possible for the shears to pop apart when under a lot of stress.
The Blade and Handle As One Piece: This feature is found mainly on the more high-end cutters, however, ideally, you want the tang (the part of the blade that extends down into the handle) to be constructed from one piece. This makes the whole sheer much stronger and can prevent breakages or twists.
A Low Pivot Point: Having a lower pivot point down the blade will help you get better leverage while cutting. This makes cutting through harder materials like cartilage or bone much, much easier.
Pull Apart Construction: This is particularly important for poultry cutters. After cutting turkey or chicken it is very important that you can clean them thoroughly.
Being able to separate the blades also make sharpening substantially easier.
Multi-Hand Use: This is an important one for me when buying any kitchen utensil. My wife is left-handed, so its important for me to get utensils that are ambidextrous. Not essential for everyone, but something to think about.
Built For Comfort: Nowadays most shears will come with a soft rubber or synthetic grip. This makes them more comfortable in the hand and also help them have much more grip when you have wet or greasy hands.
Decent Handle Size: You want your shears to feel good in your hand. Make sure there is enough room for your hand to fit without or any pain or discomfort.
Not Just For Cutting: You can get cutters and shears these days with lots of additional features. Some of them are not necessary for everyone. Make sure you do some research. Do you really need a bottle opener or a screwdriver integrated? Or do you just need a decent pair of cutters?
The 5 Poultry Shears You Should Consider
My Favourite Shears
At first glance, the OXO's poultry shears look just like any other shear out there. However, these little beauties are without a doubt the best that I have come across.
As their name suggests they are spring loaded to help you cut through that turkey (or chicken/duck) with ease. The stainless blade is tapered which allows you to get right into those hard to reach spots. The bottom blade is a micro-serrated blade which makes cutting (or sawing) through those tougher bones really easy.
One problem that I have with normal scissors or some other brands of shears is that the hand grips can be slippery. Although the hand grips are made from plastic the bottom loop and bolster holds your poultry juiced hands in place really well.
I am quite a messy guy, so spatchcocking a whole turkey can be quite messy, cleaning the OXO poultry shears is no problem, they split right in half so you can get a thorough clean. The locking mechanism is at the end of the shears and tucked out of the way so there are no accidental splits.
Do note these are not dishwasher safe, always hand wash with warm soapy water to avoid the blades blunting.
These are a very solid pair of shears that are perfect for their designed job. You cant get any better than that in my eyes.
The Best Cutting Shears
The J.A. Henckels poultry shears are almost on par with the XO poultry shears. There are only two differences that I found between the two.
The first (and most important) difference is the quality. I have not experienced this myself, however, in the Amazon reviews, there are mentions that some customers have had these shears snap on them mid use. Now as stated above I have not had this happen to me but it is something to keep in mind.
In the hand, they in very comfortable, and they have a handle loop on the bottom grip to ensure your greasy hands don't slip off. The handle is constructed from glassfibre-reinforced polyamide and to me seems very strong and reliable.
The only issue here is the lock is placed right where your thumb rests. If you are not too careful you can bump your thumb into it, This doesn't cause the shears to split, however, it is a bit of a nuisance.
The blades are sharp and have no issue getting through bones, cartilage or thick skin. The bottom blade is serrated which makes sawing through some bigger bones a breeze.
Keeping in mind that there have been complaints about these shears snapping and the strange placement of the lock, these can't be my best recommendation, however, they are a very close second because of their feel in the hand and general performance.
The poultry shears are an ergonomically designed set of shears made tough for everyday kitchen use. they are made or high-quality stainless steel and include a really handy safety clip on the end to stop accidental openings.
They are ambidextrous so perfect for those of you who can use either hand or have a lefty in the house.
The downside to these shears is that they do not have a hand loop. This makes them a little hard to use when you have wet or greasy hands as your hands can slip and slide around a bit. They also have a beefier construction so they are not so good for us that have smaller hands.
The blades are corrosion resistant and the handles are made from a tough, nonslip material. Which to be honest did work pretty well with hands covered in chicken fat and juice.
They are made to go in the dishwasher, however, for all shears and knives, I would advise hand washing and dry straight away to avoid any blunting or damage.
These shears are a decent set or shears, however, I would use these for more of an all-round set of kitchen shears and not specifically for poultry.
Is There A Difference between Shears & Scissors
There are differences between shears and scissors. These differences become apartment when you try to spatchcock a turkey with a set of scissors.
The shears have longer blades, with the bottom blade being a tad longer and more of an oblong shape.
The handles on a set of shears are far more ergonomic than scissors and you will find that shears can cut through thicker, more tough object, like herbs, chicken/ turkey/ duck bones, and cartilage.
How to Care & Maintain Your Shears
If you have a model with a serrated blade, your best bet for sharpening would be to get them done by a professional. Take this opportunity to get all your knives sharpened. Your local culinary supply store will be the best people to talk to, most will even have a mobile service.
To ensure that your blade stays as sharp as possible, it is always best to handwash your shears. I would even do this on shears that advertise being dishwasher safe. This is essential for keeping your edges sharp and in tip top condition.
If your shears have a pivot screw, every few months pop a drop of oil on the screw to sure it is always running smoothly.
Your non-serrated blades can be sharpened at home on a Wheatstone sharpener.
If you are lucky enough to have carbon blades, wipe them with an oiled cloth every now and then. Your favorite cooking oil will work perfectly.