There was probably a time when all you needed to create a meal was a can opener and a pot on the stove. That was then; but now that you’re cooking skills have improved, have your kitchen tools? Learn which four gadgets could help you up your cooking game.
A Good Chef’s Knife
Chances are, if you’ve done any cooking, you already own a knife for chopping and slicing food. The comparison between an OK knife and a good-quality chef’s knife is like that of hamburger to prime rib. Once you’ve held the better of the two in your hand, you’ll never go back.
The key to a great knife is finding one that fits you. Chef’s knives come in a variety of lengths, styles and weights, and finding the right one for you means getting out there and experiencing them for yourself. Find a local kitchen supply store and ask to test drive some of their knives. The right knife should have proper balance, meaning the balance point is where the handle meets the blade. This makes possible a much smoother motion when cutting and chopping, requiring less effort on your part. A good knife should also allow you to chop in that rocking style that you see so often on cooking shows.
Weight is another factor when choosing the right chef’s knife. Some prefer a heavy knife, its weight helping with the downward, cutting motion while others find too much weight a burden. See what feels comfortable based on your hand size and strength.
Great food often hinges on two things: seasoning and cooking to the proper “doneness.” Nothing screams novice cook like meat that is over- or undercooked, so always have an instant-read thermometer at the ready when cooking meats.
When cooking a larger cut of meat, such as a turkey or prime rib roast, a digital thermometer can be a foodie’s best friend. These thermometers consist of two separate components: a metal probe, which is inserted into the meat, and a digital monitor that receives readings from the probe. As the meat cooks, the monitor will show you the internal temperature of the meat, and an alarm will sound when the meat is done. These are perfect for when you’re entertaining and don’t want to be checking your meat’s temperature constantly.
A microplane grater/zester is one of those kitchen gadgets you don’t know you need until you have one, then spend the rest of your cooking life wondering how you ever lived without it. Originally used in the woodworking industry, it didn’t take long for chefs to fall in love with this tool’s ability to zest citrus and grate cheese into delicate wisps of flavor. It also grates smaller food items, such as fresh nutmeg or frozen chili peppers, perfectly.
Have you ever tried to cut evenly thin slices of potatoes by hand a failed miserably? You’re not alone. With its pre-set blade measurements, a mandolin takes most of the work out of creating uniform slices of just about any sliceable food. Just dial in the desired thickness of your slices and glide the food over the blade. What slides out underneath is a slice of perfection. Just be sure to grip the food with the accompanying pusher to keep your fingers out of the mix.
Every workspace needs, as the saying goes, “the right tools for the job.” When it comes to cooking, having the rights tools can help you create meals worth remembering. While you certainly don’t need to splurge on every shiny gadget you see, having these basics will certainly help make your time in the kitchen easier.