Hey Strangekittens. This post is part two of this one: Kitchen basics: What you should have, and what you don’t really need. Read that before you read this one. This one goes into more depth about why you need certain things, and what you can use it for. So you can decide for yourself what you do and don’t need.
Like I mentioned, if you want to eat properly and cook good food, it’s nice to be well equipped, just like most situations. That being said, I’ve cooked some epic stuff with just a BBQ/pit fire and tongs. But dare I say it, I do get bored of fire roasted everything. And grills ain’t fun, although you should clean it. Eventually.
Obviously, you need stuff to put your food in over heat sources. You could try using tin foil, but it’s gonna be a little unstable. I would suggest at least 3 types.
– Biiiiig one. Preferably with a lid. Like the biggest stew pot you can reasonably fit on your heat source. For stews, slow cooking and bone broth making. It’s good to get one you can at least fit a kilo of beef bones in, or a chicken carcass for stock. Get one with a heavy bottom of good quality; it needs to be ok being on the stove for hours without warping. I’ll go into making stock sometime in the future, but once you’ve made you’re own broth, you’ll want to use it in everything. You can also use it for slow cooking over any heat source, unlike a crock pot, which generally needs an electric outlet.
Alternatively: A dutch oven can also be used for the same things.
-Medium one. You want to be able to fit at least 6L in it. This you can use for your everyday prep – boiling veggies, simmering sauces etc. Can also use them for smaller quantities of stew or soup. Again, quality is good, but you don’t have to spend mega $$ on it. Go tossing around in a second hand store, you’d be surprised at what you can find. Don’t buy anything that’s got major scratches though.
-Optional: Small one for sauces, melting stuff like chocolate, etc.
-Sheet pan, aka cookie pan. You can use these things for everything. I got mine for $6 from a restaurant supply store, it doesn’t have to be fancy. When it’s that cheap, once it gets too beat up you can just replace it. That being said, I’ve had mine for about a year and it’s fine; I use it several times a week for roasting/broiling/baking. It’s great for doing steaks like I did in this recipe: Nion’s Post Workout Steak Noms. If you live in an apartment building with not-so-great air circulation – you will make much less smoke by baking your steaks.
– Large roasting pan. For roasting, obviously. Get the biggest one you can comfortably fit on your oven (and lift). Should at least be able to fit a large chicken or small turkey in it. You may not do a turkey much, but a roast chicken can make 2-3 meals for a couple of people.
– A bigass wok. If you have a good wok, you don’t really need any other frying pan type things. A good wok should be reasonably light but sorta hefty with a good strong handle that doesn’t move! Nothing is worse than a cheap wok that swivels. Protip: They’re usually the best value at Asian supermarkets. I have one I paid $20 for about 5 years ago, it’s still going strong.
– Despite what I said before, a flat frying pan/griddle is handy to have for small jobs.
– Chef’s knife. Make it a hefty one, shun plastic handled ones in favour of a full metal one that’s one piece. Straight bladed, not serrated. Plastic handled ones are usually thinner, badly made and food bits get under the seams…and rot. I know, gross. Same with wooden handles.
– Same goes for peeling and boning knife. Knives are something you should not compromise quality on. A good set will last you years. On that note, get a set with a knife block or buy a whetstone and learn to use it.
– Can opener. If you don’t know what this is for you should be supervised in public. An old fashioned manual one takes a little more hand strength (RAWR HULK OPEN) but it’ll last forever, and they usually come as a multi-tool with other functions (like a bottle opener hook).
-BBQ tongs. I suggest a pair with silicone matted ends, they don’t tend to dent things like metal ones do. Keep the metal ones for the grill.
– Wooden spoons, soup ladles and slotted spoons: For mixing, ladling, approximate measures and spooning out stuff in liquid.
– Whisk. Again, self explanatory. That being said, I only use mine for cream sauces and custard. I tend to be lazy and use a fork for thick things, or my egg beater.
-Cheese grater. Like i mentioned, get a 4 sided trapezoid one that can stand by itself, and handle is nice too. Don’t get the cheapo one panel ones if you value your hands. The four sided ones generally come with a rough (large) grate, a finer one, a mandolin (slicer) and sometimes a julienne slicer. Handy for making fries and other stuff.
– A pair of silicone, or otherwise temperature moderated oven gloves. The padded cloth ones are terribly dangerous. We all know most cloth is not fire resistant either, and it’s impairing your grip.
Optional random bits and bobs:
– Food processor. Even a cheap one is handy to have around, it just makes things faster, and it doubles as a blender most of the time.
– Ye old crockpot. We all have lazy days, and crockpots are the best cooking invention ever, in my opinion. Guaranteed good meal: Dump a portion of raw meat, chopped veggies, onion, garlic, wine and broth in crock pot. Turn on low and leave it for 4-8hrs. Ta-daaah! easy awesome meal.
– Egg beater. I only use mine once a month, seriously. But it’s better than hand whisking when you don’t have an electric beater.
That’s all I can think of for now; if you have any questions, ask below in the comments section!
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