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Life in the kitchen can sometimes be a chore, which is why, when it comes to making life in the kitchen a little easier, I tend to try and get things that will do the job in less time than ever. This not only applies to cooking things in the kitchen, using power whisks instead of hand ones, blenders instead of mashers and more... making those longer, more tedious jobs, less of a hassle. This also applies to slicing up those freshly made loaves of bread or that large joint of beef that is sitting in the middle of the table on a Sunday afternoon. And that is where the old fashioned carving knife, sharpened professionally using the steel, making you look rather 'dashing' whilst standing at the head of the table.... But slicing that Sunday roast has now been made easier, almost, with the introduction of a tool that makes the manual carving knife a thing of the past. That tool being what in the trade is called an electric carving knife, of which there are many of them on the market, with me having owned and used quite a few of them during my expeditions in and around the kitchen.
One particular electric carving knife that I have used is one from a well known and very well established company called Russell Hobbs, with this one having the boring name of the R.H. food collection carving knife 13892
* Firstly, the boring specs...
It is a 120watt model with what they call a universal blade, which is about 203mm in length. The length of the main unit as about 200mm long, 160mm high and about 60mm wide, weighing in a less than a bag of sugar.
It is powered by that amazing magic called elastic-trickery and has a cable that is about 550mm long, which means that you don't have to be stuck too close to the socket.
And that is the specs then really... there's no bells and whistles, as they say...
* What does this knife look like..?
It looks a bit like a strange looking vacuum cleaner with a very long, and rather thin, nose, sticking out of the front. But it's not a vacuum cleaner even if it resembles one in a way. Then again, if you look at it at a different angle, then you could mistake it for a scale modal of a Reliant Robin, that some one has 'Essexed up', slapping a tail fin on the back of it... but only at a certain angle of course.
The front slopes upwards and has a small button on it which, when pressed, releases the blades in order to clean them. As we go further up the slope of the Reliant's front, passed the blade release button, on the top, there is another button which is the actual power button. Press this and the blades stroke across each other.
As we continue along the sloping shape of the unit, heading to the rear, there's the tail fin which is not only for show, or to keep the wheel on the ground to get traction on the road... hang on, that's the car!!!!. No, this fin is not only for show it actually has a purpose, this being to hold the mains cable when it's in storage. This fin, combined with the little indent on the underside at the rear, helps hold the cable in position with no trouble at all.
Right at the front there is a small slit that is where you push the blades into. This doesn't look anything special, it's just a small hole in the front of the unit.
Then there's the blade itself, or more the blades, as there are two of them really that rub against each other in order for the serrated teeth to slice through your fingers.. I mean the joint of beef.
As I said, these blades are about 200mm long and are serrated to make life easier when cutting. On the near end of the blade, the end the goes into the unit itself, there is a small 'wad' of plastic that is used to help slot the blades into place so you don't have to actually hold the sharp edge of the blade when handling it.
The blades are made of stainless steal which keeps the rust monster away from the metal giving them a chance to live longer. The blades are dishwasher safe if you want to clean them that way.
And that's what this looks like really. A curvy shaped model with, as I've already said, no whistles and bells....
* How do I use it..?
It is used like your manual carving knife, although you don't have to do the manual push and pull stroking of the blade as the two blades on this knife do the cutting.
You just simply slot the blades into place then you plug the unit into the mains. And now you're ready to start carving.
Putting the blade in is a matter of using the two small plastic stubs that are on the blade, being careful not to touch the sharp edges too much as you might slice your fingers. It is advised to use the blade guard that came with this unit, this guard being a simple thin clear plastic sheath the goes over the blade to protect you from the blade edges. For me, using this guard is not possible as I lost mine within a few days of getting my hands on this, and I still have no idea what happened to it? I just hope I didn't end up cooking it by mistake at some point??
Anyway, once you've got a grip of the 'stubs' on the blade you simple slot the metal end into the slot on the plastic unit, listening and feeling the blade 'clicking' into place.
And now the blades are in place and ready to be used. So it's just a matter of you pressing the on button, keeping it pressed down, in order to keep the blades moving.
Once you let go of the 'on' button the power stops and the blades comes to a stop in seconds.
* What about cleaning..?
All that really needs a good clean are the blades themselves, which, once you've unplugged the unit, is a simple matter of pulling the double blades from the main unit and then sliding one blade off the other by simply using the small 'holes' that the blade uses to lock into place.
Once the blades are off you just clean them as you would any other knife, showing caution as the blades are still sharp enough to cut through your skin in no time at all.
* What do I think of this knife..?
When it comes to knives that cut through things this one is on par with a butter knife really, which makes this one a bit of a disappointment when it comes to slicing through a chunk of beef or lamb. To be honest, I'm actually very disappointed that I bought it in the first place as it is not really up the job of cutting through warm ice cream let alone anything harder, such as butter or maybe even a mud pie.
The on button needs to be constantly pressed to keep the blade running, which is a good safety feature, but this button is a little bit on the tricky side to keep a good press on as it's a bit too far back, if you know what I mean?. this tended to leave my thumb a little bit numb after a bit of cutting time, such as the time taken to slice up a loaf of bread or a lovely chunk of beef, especially as the blades take so long to do what they are supposed to do.
I can't be all negative about it as I do like the shape of it, which is what caught my eye in the first place I think, with its smooth curves and the lovely little fin on the rear, and to be honest it feels good in my hand too, being a good size and a nice weight. But those couple of positives definitely don't out way the main negative of this, and that is the lack of power as the blades really do struggle to cut through anything tougher than a loaf of bread, falling pretty flat when I show it to the roast beef on the table. In fact, I swear, when it sees the meat it starts to have hot sweats and trembles slightly.
What more can I say about this knife..? Not a lot really. Or more I don't have anything else to say as I believe things like this should not be given the publicity they crave.
Basically it's an electric carving knife that is more useful when it's not plugged in, or maybe used as a door stop, just take the blade off first.
* So, now for the price..??
This manual saving carving knife sells for about the £15.00 mark, which is in the middle to low price range for this type of knife.
* Would I tell you to buy it..?
To be brutally honest I suggest buying that butter knife I mentioned earlier as that would probably do a more reliable job in slicing through your meat than this piece of junk.
It's not something I'd have expected from the people at Russell Hobbs, that's for sure.
The Russell Hobbs 120W Carving Knife features a 203mm serrated blade to help you get through those tough joints of meat! With a comfort grip handle, a convenient thumb tip control button and power and blade release buttons this carving knife is sure to be hassle free and safe to use. Its easy wrap cord storage will also help to keep your kitchen cupboards tidy.