We have about a dozen cutting boards in the RainyDayKitchen. The boards come in handy because sometimes we need all hands on deck at prep time. We have a lot of types of boards: some are made of hard wood, others synthetic, and one was even custom-made to size. While we use them everyday, we have never reviewed one for the magazine. Judging by the requests for recommendations and product review suggestions, this oversight was not lost on our loyal readers. With Thanksgiving coming up, we thought now was an appropriate time to take a closer look at this essential piece of kitchen gear.
When looking over reader suggestions, the name John Boos & Company kept coming up. They are a maker of premium butcher block and stainless steel food service products. John Boos offers a variety of cutting boards for lots of different applications. We chose one which we thought would be helpful during the upcoming holidays, but would also be useful everyday. That board is the John Boos Newton Prep Master III.
The Newton Prep Master by John Boos is 100% made in the USA from Northern maple, a rock-hard wood. We picked it because it is large enough (24″x18″x2-1/4″) to handle a good sized holiday turkey or ham. The sloped-juice groove is a nice detail that we do not have in our other boards. The angled groove channels the liquid into a stainless steel drip tray (5-3/4×8-1/2×1-1/8″). This is a nice feature which keeps the juices from dripping off the board and making a mess. The edge-grain construction (maple rails laid side-by-side, glued) gives the board strength and reduces the possibility of warping.
Another cool feature of this Newton Prep Master is that it is reversible. While the grooved-side is great for cutting up meat, the groove-less side was designed for chopping vegetables, slicing scallions, and other such tasks. Also, the drip tray, when used on the reversed side becomes a scrap tray.
Unlike counter tops and decorative butcher-block surfaces, cutting boards do not come with a finish on them. The Newton Prep Master was the same. The surface had been sanded smooth but was otherwise “raw.” A tube of Boos Block Cream came with the board, and was the perfect thing to create the finish. The cream is specifically formulated for cutting boards and chopping blocks, and is a natural formula of unbleached beeswax and food-grade mineral oil.
Before using the board, we wiped on a nice layer of cream and allowed it to penetrate into the wood. The wax formed a nice silky barrier and will lock in the moisture. Used regularly, Boos Block Board Cream should keep the butcher block from drying and cracking.
The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are coming. We will be using this John Boos Newton Prep-Master board to see how it handles both the vegetable and the meat prep.