With kitchen gadgets, my criteria is that they should be able to do more than one thing, otherwise, they are just another item you've bought on a whim. Sometimes you don't know if something is capable of doing more than one thing, because you haven't gone beyond it's name and thought of other ways to use it.
With Thanksgiving coming up, you will need all the help you can get, and with that in mind here are a few gadgets that will help to make some of the laborious jobs this holiday season a bit easier.
Sauce Whisk: Lumpy gravy will be a thing of the past; a sauce whisk is narrow and will get into the bottom of saucepans and roasting pans, picking up the caramelized bits on the bottom. Sauce whisks are great for stirring together a salad dressing, cooking puddings and aerating dry ingredients before mixing.
I love the rainbow whisks; they are coated in silicone (your new best friend) which is heat tempered to 800 degrees, and is dishwasher safe.
Saucier--a rounded bottom sauce pan for reducing sauces, making gravies, and other sauces. Although you might not thing this is a gadget, I think it's essential for making delicious sauces.
Silicone bands: These babies are for trussing your turkey, tying roasts, and any other roasting or tying jobs that you would need to do. The best news is you don't have to deal with tangled butchers' twine anymore, the bands are dishwasher safe and reusable.
Microplane: A zester, grater and all around great tool; use this to grate citrus zest, small amounts of cheese, fresh nutmeg and cinnamon, and fresh ginger. Best news, it's dishwasher safe.
Silicone brushes: No more bristles that attract flavors and stain from seasoned bastes, and barbecue sauces. These brushes are gentle enough for brushing phyllo dough, and tough enough to withstand the heat from the barbecue. I love to use them to brush butter on biscuits, or over apples for a tart.
Silicone high heat spoon: I have gotten rid of all my wooden spoons because they tend to absorb flavors and odors. These silicone high heat spoons are dishwasher safe, and heat tempered to 800 degrees. They come in a variety of colors, and do the job.
Silicone spatulas: In the same vein as the silicone spoon, these high heat spatulas are terrific for any job. The spatulas come in a rainbow of colors, and sizes.
Meat Thermometer: The only way to tell if your meat is done is by the internal temperature of the meat. There are lots of choices out there, but you need to decide if you want to spend $10 for an instant read or over $20 for a probe with a digital read-out that sits on the counter. Some of the probe types have a digital read out that reads the temperature of your oven, the meat, and will buzz or ring when the correct internal temperature is reached. I look at this one as the complete no-brainer--the fact that it will read the temperature of your oven will save you a $150+ service call to have your oven calibrated.
Cuisipro Roasting Rack: This item doesn't fit my two uses criteria, but it's so genius I had to include it. Put your turkey on the rack, transfer it to your roasting pan. Then when the turkey is done, lift the rack onto your cutting board or serving platter, remove the pin that goes down the center, and the rack falls away, and your turkey hasn't been punctured by huge forks, or other implements. Love this thing--even take it to Maui to use when we cook in the condo!
Dial-A-Slice apple slicer: This beauty cuts and cores apples, and pears into 8 or 16 slices. 8 slices are prefect for sauteing apples, and 16 are perfect for pie making. This will take the drudgery out of all that chopping.
Alligator chopper: Although nothing beats your knife to slice and dice, this little beauty will finely chop everything your need for your Thanksgiving dinner. If you are a novice, I highly recommend it.
Oxo Peeler: If you still have that rusty peeler that you got when you moved into your apartment, it's time to invest in something new. Great for peeling everything, but you can also make chocolate curls, and nice curls of Parmigiano Reggiano. This peeler will peel everything from apples, potatoes, to peaches and tomatoes.
Oxo fat separator: A terrific tool for separating fat from drippings; think turkey and prime rib, it strains out any solids that are in the roasting pan. It can also be used as a measuring cup and is microwave safe.
Strawberry Slicer: OK, I know strawberries won't be in season in November, but this little tool is great for slicing mushrooms, and if you cook my Do-Ahead Thanksgiving dinner you will want to have this little gadget; it slices strawberries, mushrooms, and eggs and goes into the dishwasher, nothing better!
In a future post, I'll tell you about all the equipment that I think is necessary to furnish your kitchen properly. For now, remember to get your carving knife and your prep knives sharpened this week, since no one will want to help you the week of Thanksgiving. Have a great Monday night!