our real kitchen gadget guide and a sub sale worth supporting
Hey Broiler Heads, this week we thought we’d send our newsletters out a lil early so that we can offer a little more help before the big holiday. If these emails, texts, and targeted ads we’re all receiving are any indication, the holiday we’re celebrating this week is Black Friday. Hell, you could skip to the end of this newsletter to see the deal we’re running on subscriptions to our recipe club. We couldn’t help ourselves.
Despite what any kitchenfluencer that does brand collabs, runs ads, or has morphed into full greed monster might say, you don’t need to buy a ton of expensive shit to be a good cook. We know that the Breville Air Fryer is sexy as hell, but will it change your life? Probably not. So this week Michelle is here with timeless advice we to keep you from filling your kitchen with expensive gadgets you’ll never use. Here are our must-have items for cooking success. Nothing fancy, just a couple of simple workhorses that we believe every kitchen needs and three bonus items if you’re in a splurging mood. No ads, no affiliate links, just our honest advice.
A Damn Good Knife
We’re not sure why most kitchens have a whole block of crappy knives on their counter. Knife blocks are full of random shit and not practical in a real kitchen. Instead put that money into one good knife that you’re comfortable using. A 7” Santoku or Chef’s knife is usually the best bet. It’s going to cost about the same as that basic block set BUT you’ll have it for the rest of your life.
Personally, we love knives from Shun but whatever feels most comfortable in your hand is the best for you. Just hand wash it right away; meaning the “let it soak” rule NEVER applies to knives and sharpen it about as often as you change your car’s oil. My Shun knife has been in daily use since 2006 and it hasn’t slowed down once. Not to mention, having a good knife makes all your chopping and prep work go waaayyyy faster. Plus dull knives are far more dangerous. Save your pinky and your pennies. It’s worth it.
A large cutting board
It’s honestly alarming all the shit y’all have in your kitchen that you’d call a cutting board. Stop struggling to prep your food on that thin piece of plastic you’ve been using since ‘08. One big ass cutting board makes everything easier. You can chop multiple things and just scoot them to the side without interrupting your flow. Wood or bamboo are ideal for everyday stuff and easiest on your knives. I keep a couple plastic boards around BUT ONLY for chopping fruit- since I want to make sure they don’t taste like the onslaught of onions I’ve chop on the main boards.
Despite how regularly I cook, I only use the same 3 main pots for pretty much everything. There’s no reason to buy a big set of pots like it’s freshman year of college when you’ll end up just reaching for the same pot over and over.
All you need is one large Dutch oven, a braiser with a lid, and a large stock pot. You can handle 90% of all your cooking using just these three pans, so they usually stay parked on the top of the stove. We like enamel coated cast iron for the Dutch oven and braiser. They’ll last a long time, look dope as fuck, and are just easy to cook in. We love Lodge products but you can also occasionally find Le Creuset pans on sale places or at thrift shops if you keep your eyes peeled. I swear this is absolutely the way to go.
Some Big Bowls
Last but not least, you need a few different sized bowls. A few glass, a few metal, with one large enough to hold a big salad. These are great for mixing and for holding all the veggies you chop as part of your prep work. Go to a restaurant supply shop to get these super cheap. They’ll make cooking much quicker. I swear.
Speciality Equipment We Actually Use
There are a few more items that we use daily in the kitchen but they’re not required to be a decent cook. These are more like extra credit items that you should only buy if you know you put in enough time in the kitchen to benefit from them.
A Decent Blender
There are lots of great, high end blenders on the market so it can be hard to tell what to buy. But having a blender that actually works well makes all your sauces creamier, all your purees more uniform, your smoothies completely free of giant chunks of ice. We both have old school Vitamixes which we love but recognize that they’re are expensive as fuck. The brand offers great discounts on refurbished models on their site which can make the barrier to entry less painful on your pocket book. My best advice is to buy your blender at a retailer that has a great, long-term return policy like Costco. Too many blenders, even from well regarded and established brands, seem to suffer from planned obsolescence. They break down after one or two years of regular use despite their higher price tag and I’m not buying a brand new blender every couple years. Fuck that. Take that shit right back to Costco, get your money back, and buy another from Costco so forth and so on until the end of time. I bought my Vitamix at Costco and although I’ve had it for 7 years without an issue, I’ve been burned in the past. Don’t be afraid to return that shit. Your grandma’s blender that she got on her wedding day still works. They’ve design ours to break and you’re not playing that game anymore right? Right.
A Food Processor
A food processor with a container that’s at least 7 cups big is great for most kitchens and is perfect for sauces, pestos, and purees that don’t have enough liquid in them to work in your blender. Plus, most come with grating attachments that will save your hands if you ever need to grate a shitton of let’s say, carrots for a carrot cake or potatoes for hash browns. We’ve rocked a Cuisinart 7 Cup Pro Classic since the 2015 and we’ve never had an issue with the motor. I’m clumsy and broke the work bowl attachment but luckily they sell replacement parts on their site. This size is ideal for about any cooking project large or small. I had a 1 cup food processor when I was writing the recipes for the first book and it was such a pain in the ass. Go bigger, you won’t be sorry. Again, this is another item that you should ideally buy from a retailer with a great, long-term return policy for all the same reason as the blender. These companies don’t build products like they used to and you shouldn’t be buy big ticket items like this every couple years. It’s ridiculous.
A Stand Mixer
This is for all the bakers out there. Rarely bake? Then you don’t need this. You really don’t. If you bake with some frequency, a stand mixer can really make your job a lot easier particularly when it comes to kneading yeasted doughs, like our Winter Squash Dinner Rolls. I have weak hands from a lifetime of cooking and cashiering so anything that helps me take it easy on them is a lifesaver. Recently I was asked by The Strategist column in New York Magazine to give my thoughts on a variety of stand mixers and stand (lol) by those recommendations. The only drawback to our favorite brand Kitchenaid is that a new model can be prohibitively expensive. Luckily, they offer certified refurbished models for a fraction of the new retail price. It’s a hell of a deal and one of the best kept secrets in baking. The discounts are truly deep, much better than Vitamix, and worth watching if you know 2023 is the year you finally conquer homemade bread.
Once you got your equipment dialed in, the cooking will just flow out of you. Sure you can waste your money on an instapot, airfryer, bread machine, and infrared toaster but most people who buy those kinds of specialty equipment use them for such a short time before it’s pushed to the back of a cabinet to collect dust. It’s not worth it. Invest in timeless cooking tools and watch your meals get better and prep time go faster.
We hope y’all have a great holiday weekend whether you’re cooking for family, friends, or no one but yourself. In this week’s supporters-only newsletter, we’re kicking off five weeks of sweets with a brand new cookie recipe that’s perfect for this time of year.
Want new recipes every week and extra cooking advice? Sign right up and help support our brand. We’re currently offering 20% annual subscriptions until December 3rd which means you get three months of recipes for free just for taking advantage of this deal. We’d love to have you join the club.
Stay safe, warm, and full this holiday season.
Michelle (and Matt)