Whenever you’re in the mood to try cooking a new dish, there’s nothing more disheartening than finding out that the recipe calls for a tool that you don’t have. While some recipes have possible workarounds, many do not; sometimes, your only option is to move onto a different recipe that your current set of kitchen tools can handle.
What we have in our kitchen roster usually gets built out over time, so unless you’re constantly trying different things, chances are there are a few areas where your collection is lacking. So, in the spirit of getting to cook whatever we want whenever we want, we wanted to remind you of a couple of items that you might want to add to your wishlist if you don’t already have them. These tools and utensils can sometimes be left out of the conversation but really make all the difference.
10 Often forgotten essential kitchen items that every cook should have in their roster
This may seem deceptively obvious, but many of us are chopping, slicing and dicing with a knife that is just barely getting the job done. If you have an alright set of knives, it’s easy to rationalize not having a high-quality knife if your blades are getting the job done adequately enough; still, a good quality chef knife will improve your chopping skills, get the job done quicker with less effort and minimize the chance of injury. Once you’ve crossed over, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
A good pair of kitchen shears is underrated. You can use it to snip herbs, cut open food packaging, and quickly chop up veggies such as green onions. Not only that, but many kitchen shears also double as a cracker for nuts and shells. If something like crab is on the menu, scissors are essential to safely work through the tough exterior. Speaking of safety, when there are no shears around to open packaging, many of us resort to using a knife that has a higher likelihood of resulting in an accident. For your safety and peace of mind, kitchen shears are essential!
When you’re roasting or baking something that you won’t be cutting into until it’s been served – a la a big bird – having a trusty thermometer is crucial! Doneness, especially when it involves meat in some capacity, is not something that you want to leave up to chance. If roasts are something that you delegate to the holiday meals, it’s easy to forget the importance of this trinket, but it is one of those things that you want to have when you need it; the alternative is just too risky.
Recipes that call for an immersion blender can usually be compromised with a regular blender, but the process is much less satisfying. If you’ve ever needed to puree a piping hot soup, you probably know that transferring it from the pot to the blender and then back to the pot is not ideal; a hand blender allows you to blend smaller amounts of food without having to partake in any complicated shifts. For those of us who love a potato or squash-based soup, a hearty pesto or a perfectly whipped hollandaise sauce, it’s a game-changer!
Cast Iron Skillet
There are SO many things that a cast iron skillet can do that you would otherwise need to use multiple pots and pans for. Cast iron skillets are endlessly helpful; you can use them for sauteing, searing, baking, braising, pan-frying, roasting, broiling, and beyond. Because of its material, it is both stovetop and oven safe and sound to put in a campfire or even on a BBQ grill. Not to mention, it makes for a very Instagramable foodie picture!
You might liken a food processor to a blender, but they have entirely different uses. A food processor can help you quickly chop veggies or fruits, puree liquid, make pastry dough and ground-up meat, where a blender is primarily meant for easier blend jobs like a smoothie. Think of a food processor as your all-purpose kitchen workhorse that does all of the work that you can’t muster up the energy to do yourself. It’s an incredibly valuable tool to have in your kitchen.
If this is a tool that you’ve put off purchasing because you have a grater, you might want to reconsider. Microplanes aren’t just for zesting; they come in handy when you want to sprinkle some Parmigiano-Reggiano over your steamy pasta, to add thinly chopped nuts to a dish, mince garlic in the absence of a garlic press, or finish off a dessert with wisps of chocolate shavings. The microplane was made for these delicate touches, so using a grater when the recipe calls for a microplane can sometimes feel clunky.
When you are making a salad, all you’ve got to do is dump every ingredient into a bowl and mix it all up, and it’s done, right? Not entirely – salads can be deceptively simple. One of the easiest ways to make sure that your salad is up to stuff is tossing the lettuce before you add any of the dressing. This removes the excess water from the greens and allows salad dressing to stick without as much dilution. Salad greens are extremely prolific at holding onto as much water as possible, which, unless corrected, can really water down your salad. Tossing it a few times over is an effortless way to guarantee a little extra taste!
There’s nothing quite as upsetting as your once trusty knife going dull on you. While there are plenty of places that you can bring your knives in to be sharpened, that doesn’t do you any good in the moment. Instead of working your way through veggies and protein with a dull knife, save yourself the frustration with having a knife sharpener on hand. Unless it is restaurant-grade, it likely won’t be as sharp as it would be if you were to get it sharpened professionally, but it is still plenty worth it!
When you need to remove something from the oven or the stovetop to save it from burning or overcooking, the next thing that you need to figure out is where to put the ultrahot dish. Similarly, for meals that are supposed to be served out of the cooking dish, you might be wondering how to do such. Protect your countertops and dining table from potential heat damage by having a couple of trivets on hand!
As we said earlier, building up your kitchen roster is usually something that happens over several years. Most of the things we own are on a need-to-own basis, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t think ahead. If you are a person who likes to experiment in the kitchen or try your hand at various cuisines, having any of the above tools will only benefit you! Of course, you don’t want to go out and buy something that you’re not going to use, so ask yourself whether any of these would be helpful in your cooking before you invest. Happy cooking!