Monday, November 22, 2010

Top Ten Pieces of Equipment for the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever; Plus One!

If I could send you to my favorite gourmet retailers, I would send you with this list, and have you buy everything on it that you don't have to get your Thanksgiving dinner off to a great start. If you live near the places I teach, stop by and have them help you—I know that they would love to give you their best advice and help you on your way to a stress free Thanksgiving.

Heavy Duty Roasting Pan

Caramelized bits on the bottom of the roasting pan are what give your gravy color and flavor. Buy a 3 to 5 ply roasting pan—with the 5-ply it will go right on the stove top to make gravy. My picks: Mauviel or All-Clad.   

Roasting Rack

The Cuisipro Roasting rack comes apart to give you an easy way to transport the bird to the carving board. It's genius, and it's dishwasher safe! Using a rack is essential; if you lay the turkey on the bottom of the pan without a rack, it will steam, and the juices will be pale and watery. Buy the rack, you won't be sorry!

Carving Knife

I tell students it's not so much the brand, as what feels comfortable in your hand; that being said, you get what you pay for with knives. Wusthof is my favorite—German engineering---need I say more? Many people love Shun, and Global and Messermeister is another brand. Test drive them before you buy---hold them in your hand and see if they feel heavy, light weight, if the grip feels good. Any reputable cookware store will let you do this—If I could send you all to my favorite stores, that would make me happy, because their staff(s) know what they are talking about. Check out the places I teach, and if you are nearby it's worth the trip! Oh, and for carving knives, I prefer the ones with the Granton or "hollow ground" scallops---that way the knife doesn't drag through the meat. Check out the turkey carving video at my website under "Do-Ahead Tools".

Swivel Peeler

OK, my students hear me say this over and over, if you still have that peeler you got when you moved into your first apartment it's time to get rid of that rusty old thing and get a new one. My preference is the Oxo – feels good in my hand, and works like a charm, with an ergonomic handle. Messermeister makes a serrated peeler and it's terrific for soft skins like peaches, and tomatoes.

Fat Separator

To separate the fat from the drippings for gravy, this baby is essential—it also doubles as a measuring cup in the off-season. The Oxo is my fat separator of choice—it has a little vacuum plug in the spout that prevents the fat from coming up the tube. Dishwasher safe—love that!

Oven to Table Bake-ware

I love Emile Henry bake-ware; made from Burgundy clay, this bake-ware cleans up beautifully, and your baked goods heat evenly in these pans. They come in gorgeous colors to match any d├ęcor, and are freezer to oven to table safe.

Silicone Baking Bands

These look like rubber bands, but are in fact silicone for tying roasts, and trussing turkeys. They are dishwasher safe, and reusable. (Also double as pony tail holders for some assistants I've had!)

Silicone Pastry Brush

The Orka is the BEST!! It's a baster and a brush, so you can brush rolls with butter without having to reload. Silicone, so it's heat tempered to a zillion degrees you can even use it at the grill.

Meat Thermometer

The only way you will know if the meat (turkey) is done is by its internal temperature; make the investment and buy a thermometer. You can either buy an instant read , or a probe that is inserted into the turkey and has a digital read out that sit on the counter—this is my favorite type because it also monitors the oven temperature to let you know if you are baking too hot or too cold. The read out will beep when your meat is at the desired temperature---it couldn't be easier!

3 to 5-quart Saucier

This pan is for making gravy or sauces, and reducing sauces. It is a workhorse in your kitchen and if you have one you will find yourself picking up over your other saucepans.

Sauce Whisk

You can't make a great sauce without a whisk; a sauce whisk comes in various shapes, from flat, to narrow oval, to straight beaded. I'm fond of the Kuhn Rikon silicone whisks, which can be used in non-stick pans and Le Creuset pans. Sauce whisks will help take the lumps out of your gravy, or sauce, and whip up a dressing in no time.

Wishing you aloha from Maui!

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