Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2018 issue.
There are 5 things you need in your kitchen to be able to rock it when things start heating up. OK, even before they start heating up.
You’ve got to be able to cut it — an AWESOME Chefs Knife: This is the all-purpose knife to have. It slices, it dices, it chops! Be sure it is good quality (this is one to spend $$$ on). Also, handle it before you buy it. Be sure you like how it feels in your hand. Is it well, balanced. You’ll be using this one constantly. You want it to be comfortable. And, have a way to keep it sharp. You can get a sharpening stone (just be sure you know how to use it), an electric sharpener, or take it to a pro.
A way to know how hot it’s really getting — a food thermometer. If you want to be able to cook like a pro, you’ve got to know the temp of your food. You can pick one up from a couple of bucks, to a fancy digital, to an even more fancy infrared food thermometer. Just get one. Then use it!
Out of the fire into the … pan. Just like a good chefs knife, having one or two really goodpans can help turn you into a rock star in the kitchen. I recommend starting with a good sauté pan and a saucier. I like a saucier over a sauce pan because it has curved bottom edges making it easy to get in there with a wisk or wooden spoon and a lip to make pouring a snap.
Chop, chop, chop. Cutting boards are a must! Wood, plastic, boards or mats — doesn’t matter. Whatever works for you. If you go plastic I do recommend colored ones. Green for fruits and veggies, yellow for raw chicken, red for raw meat, etc. Using colored ones keeps the risk of cross-contamination (raw chicken cooties on your veggies) down. Also, keep a spray bottle of sanitizing solution at your sink to sanitize after washing.
Tongs. Yup, tongs. So simple. So powerful. I took a cooking class where we used tongs. I immediately ran out and got some. They make moving things around into/in/out of pans so much easier! I find I use them constantly! Be sure you get some with a tab that locks them. I prefer metal to rubber tipped ones.