A bad worker always blames his or her tools, or so the saying goes. While this cliché might be a little tired, when it comes to how we work in the kitchen, it is still as relevant as the day the phrase was first coined. Whether you love cooking or dread the daily chore, there are plenty of ways that the equipment that you use can make a tangible difference to the quality of the food that you turn out. Let’s look at what you need in your kitchen to get the best out of it, whatever your culinary skill level.
Ware and Tear
The quality of your cookware sets drastically impact not only the food that you cook but also the experience of cooking it. Pots and pans that stick, stain easily or don’t cook evenly are every chef’s nightmare and can severely affect the experience for anyone, particularly those with less experience. You are far better served investing in something a little sturdier and upmarket than settling for a poor-quality set of cookware based on the lower price.
Cuts Like a Knife
I never cease to be amazed at how many people struggle through the food preparation process with substandard, blunt knives. This perennial frustration is easily fixed by ensuring that you have the right selection of quality knives on hand at all times and keeping them sharp. Most people can get by perfectly well with a decent chef’s knife, a paring knife and a Santoku knife. For extra credit, I always keep a couple of simple serrated knives to cut vegetables with tough membranes, such as tomatoes and bell peppers.
Like White on Rice
One appliance that I cannot live without is my rice cooker. My family are adventurous eaters, and we frequently sit down to Asian and Indian style meals serve with rice. Cooking rice on the stovetop is a skill requiring precision and attention. One slip and you can end up with a gluggy mess, or hard, undercooked blobs. With a good rice cooker, you can just flick the switch and forget about it, which is a dream come true for busy households preparing for meal times.
Microplane and Simple
A microplane is one of my best friends in the kitchen. These handy little implements are perfect for grating garlic, ginger, hard cheeses or nutmeg, as well as zesting citrus. Microplanes are far easier to use for smaller jobs than graters, and allow the flesh to retain juices and oils far better. Best of all, they are a cinch to clean and won’t end up shaving the ends of your fingers.
Can You Feel the Heat
Many home cooks struggle to get the balance right when it comes to cooking meat and poultry. Achieving a beautifully seared skin while ensuring that the meat is adequately cooked all the way through can be a bit of a guessing game. This is where an instant-read thermometer can come in exceptionally handy. Ensuring the right internal temperature is the secret to a perfect beef, lamb or turkey or steak, so utilize this handy tool to take the guesswork out of the process.
If there is one appliance that is essential to busy, modern lives, it is the slow cooker. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve hurriedly thrown in a random assortment of meat, vegetables, herbs and spices and come back a few hours later to find the most succulent flavors. These fabulous machines are incredibly versatile and will save you time while making cooking deliciously simple.