Thursday, November 8, 2007

Five Indispensable Kitchen Tools

Every cook has a number of tools they can't live without. For some of us it is that trusty knife they've had since their career started, while others it is a perfect set of tongs and others yet have some obscure thing they got from their mentor which is completely useless and yet it gets carried around with them in their toolbox for their entire career. However, I have a list of five items, that if I did not have them I would not be able to enjoy cooking. I thought I would take the time here to share those items with you all.

The first item is a pretty obvious one and something I've discussed before on here. A good quality, well sharpened chef knife is indispensable. Notice I say sharpened as well, you could have any quality knife honestly, high quality to lesser quality, but any knife that is not sharp is useless. Either learn how to sharpen you knives on your own on a regular basis or find a local professional who specializes in sharpening knives.

My second choice, with almost fanatic zeal is my set of
OXO tongs. Tongs in general are a must in any kitchen. They make your work so much easier. When you work in a professional kitchen they often become an extension of your hand. I particularly like these tongs because they have a locking mechanism that I have developed an odd sort of way of unlocking and locking that you just have to figure out on your own when you buy them.

I have a few pans that are required to follow me to each place I work at Although the restaurant always comes with its pans, the restaurant invariably doesn't have "my" omelet pans which are All-Clad's stainless steel 8 inch pans. Many people go for the non-stick pan, but once you get used to using a regular stainless steel pan they work so much better and are better at creating added flavor to the omelet.

Another pan I can't do without is the Le Creuset braiser. It is a large hefty pan that I use to braise meats in. I love to use it for pot roast, braised short ribs, and other similar dishes. The large surface area gives the ability to brown items easily and then gives ample area to add lots of aromatics and liquid into the pan without submerging the protein. Many people think braising involves completely immersing the item under liquid which isn't true. The food item should only be covered up to about half-way.

Fresh ground pepper is crucial to a properly cooked meal. I've gone through many a grinder and found the grinders from KYOCERA. They have a ceramic grinding blade inside which grinds perfectly with little effort and as the grinding implement is ceramic, it should stay sharp and usable until the cows come home. It also has a great contemporary look to it. Unlike other grinders, this one is not adjustable, they do offer multiple grinds, fine, medium and coarse. Depending on the usage this will identify which will be best for you. Myself I have one of each and I even have one for grinding different sea salts.

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