Kitchen Essentials

On Thursday, Melissa Clark was on the show to talk about what everyone should definitely have in their kitchen, and which cooking tools and gadgets we can probably do without (listen here). Here’s her list of must-haves:

  • A chef’s knife. She uses an 8”, but she recommends going to the store and holding various sizes to see which is most comfortable in your hand.
  • A pairing knife.
  • Kitchen shears are a good idea if you dismember a lot of poultry. If you want to spatchcock a chicken, you’ll need poultry shears!
  • A good, heavy skillet (a skillet has sloped sides) or a sauté pan (straight sides). The good thing about a sauté pan is that it usually has a lid and it can go in the oven, so you can use it instead of a roasting pan. She says cast iron pans are great, but be sure to keep them seasoned well by not washing them in soap and water like you would a regular pan—just wipe and rinse them clean and make sure they are dry when you put them away (you can put the wet pan on the stovetop on a low flame until all the moisture evaporates.)
  • A good oven mitt
  • A zester or a microplane grater, which you can use for parmesan and chocolate as well as zest.
  • A 4-cup food processor. You can do most things in it instead of a blender or a standing mixer.
  • A cooking scale—it can change the way you bake when you measure ingredients on the scale instead of in cups.
  • Instead of a salad spinner, you can fill the sink to rinse your greens, pile them in a clean dish towel, wrap them up and shake them out.
  • If you don’t want a colander, you can use a big slotted spoon.

She has plenty of other recommendations—to find out more, listen to the whole interview!

Melissa also recommends having a few key ingredients on hand at all times so you can whip up a great simple meal:

  • Pasta
  • Lemons
  • Good olive oil
  • Sea salt