Load up on kitchen staples that’ll help you channel the professional chef within.
Proper knives in a range of shapes and sizes make prep easier. A carbon or stainless steel paring knife, bread knife and chef’s knife will get you through just about anything. Try before you buy, and consider balance, weight (hefty or lighter) and size (8-inch for versatility; 10-inch to cut more volume; 6-inch knife for agility).
Investing in a quality mandoline is akin to having an at-home sous chef. It’s particularly useful for making super-thin cuts and cooking food evenly. When choosing a mandoline, decide on blade shape and a hand-held or stand model. Also consider slicing shapes: round for crunchy cukes and radishes; ribbon for carrots and zucchini; matchstick for anything julienned.
CAST IRON SKILLET
Versatile and durable, the cast iron skillet is perfect for frying and searing and can be put into the oven for baking. You can make just about anything in it, but here’s a pro tip: Next time you make a roast, sear the meat on all sides in a heated cast-iron skillet, then put the whole thing in the oven to finish cooking.
MORTAR AND PESTLE
Forgo the chop of the food processor, and go old-school cool with a large granite mortar and pestle. From crushing spices or salts to making anything that’s a paste–tapenade, aioli or hummus or pesto–the age-old stone-grinding tool may be as good as it gets.
We love flexible plastic cutting boards for their easy pot-transferring abilities and even easier cleanup–just be sure to buy them in duplicates, so you can avoid cross-contamination by designating one for meat and one for veggies.
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