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drakeonyou
189
Nov 7, 2017
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This is a pretty common question but I'd like to ask this on behalf of young adults starting out. What are the essential kitchen tools every aspiring chef must have?
Nov 7, 2017
jkiemele
222
Nov 7, 2017
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Good knives are incredibly important. Spend a lot up front and get forged knives, they will last a long time. I prefer Wüsthofs, but there are a plethora of great knives out there. You don't need an 18 piece set, get a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. These will accomplish the vast majority of cooking tasks.
Ditto for pots and pans. Heavy, well-constructed pans will last a long time, but cost a lot up front. Their performance will make a huge difference in cooking, searing, sauteeing, etc..
A Microplane comes in handy for various grating needs.
A whisk and a ladle come in handy, as do spoons and spatulas to mix and stir. I also like fish spatulas to turn most things in pans since they are thin (they don't work the best for heavy food).
I might be forgetting a couple things, but as essentials, those encompass a lot of what I use most frequently.
Nov 7, 2017
MikeMD
1091
Nov 7, 2017
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Beyond 2 great kitchen knives (I prefer a santoku and a pairing knife)? I would say a really great cutting board and a really nice set of kitchen towels. Maybe some measuring cups / spoons.
We also were lucky to recently receive a larger le creuset and it is a game changer. You don't have to purchase that brand, but an enamel coated cast iron pot is a game changer. We use it for everything. Searing meat and then making soups / stews is a breeze. Only one pot to clean and it has quickly become the most used pot in out kitchen. The main tip I would give would be to purchase one bigger than you think you need. You'll be happy you have all the extra space to sear meats and veggies down the road!
I'd be interested to hear what you were thinking of picking up. :)
Nov 7, 2017
drakeonyou
189
Nov 7, 2017
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I already have a 7 inch Santoku, non-stick pan, wooden chopping board, and some other kitchen utensils though I'd like to just keep the Santoku and the chopping board, get a pairing knife (or a Petty knife), a decent 12 inch cast-iron pan, maybe a stainless steel pot or that enamel coated pot you're talking about, and a good box grater.
Nov 7, 2017
jkiemele
222
Nov 7, 2017
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I'd recommend a Lodge 12 inch cast iron pan and you can get a Lodge enamel coated pot for much cheaper than Le Creuset. I have an enamel coated pot from Lodge and it works very well. I have a Microplane box grater and I find it to work very well.
Outside of what most people would consider an essential, I would recommend a pressure cooker. The versatility, speed in cooking, and ease to use is a game changer for me.
Nov 7, 2017
drakeonyou
189
Nov 7, 2017
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I'll take a look into that pot. I do have a pressure cooker (technically my Mom's).
I'd definitely look into Microplane.
Nov 7, 2017
Slainte
30
Nov 7, 2017
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There really isn't any need for fancy gizmos and gadgets; just a few well made simple tools and the knowledge of how to use and care for them will take you far.
A skillet: Others may view this differently, but skillets fall into 3 groups. Lightweight, medium weight, and cast iron. In the lightweight category, you have your anodized, non-stick aluminum. Aluminum, with its high thermal conductivity but low thermal capacity, is perfect for delicate cooking (eggs, fish, shrimp), but can certainly take on some heavier tasks like sautéing veggies and cooking chicken & steak. The thing to note about the latter is that is can be hard to get a nice brown crust on your food. These types of skillets are often pretty affordable. In the medium weight category, you have solid steel or aluminum clad skillets. Steel has poor thermal conductivity, but pretty good thermal capacity. The main difference between full steel and aluminum clad skillets is heat distribution/hot-spotting. Aluminum clad skillets provide more even heating, but they come with a higher price tag. Medium weight skillets are the jack-of-all-trades; you can pretty much cook whatever in them. One thing to note however is that they often are not non-stick, which means cooking things like eggs will leave you scrubbing in the sink. Cast iron. If cast iron were human, it'd be a powerful cult leader. While my cast iron pan is one of my favorite things to cook with, it does require a certain level of devotion. The internet has enough people extolling cast iron, so I'm going to leave it at this: I do not recommend it as a starter skillet.
Final thoughts on skillets: Regardless of what you choose, proper care will always extend the life of your cookware. Most metal skillets can't handle metal utensils. Metal will scratch the surface, causing food to stick more easily, and over time will significant diminishes the quality of your cookware. Opt for wood/bamboo or plastic/silicone. Never use steel wool or a scour pad on your cookware, and only use non-abrasive sponges. Similar to metal utensils, this will scratch your skillet. Never let a dirty pan sit out, or be submerged in water for too long (especially cast iron); over time it will degrade your skillet and make it harder to clean, which will make you want to use those metal scour pads.
Utensils: For all your stirring, flipping, and scraping needs. Opt for wood/bamboo or plastic/silicone, avoid metal (unless it's covered by silicone).
Knowledge: I'm not trying to be a motivational speaker; an understanding of why those steps in your recipe matter will help you eschew recipes all together. Learning about your tools will give you greater control over them.
Curiosity: Baking is a science, cooking is an art. Get creative, experiment, and enjoy yourself!
Final thoughts overall: "You get what you pay for" definitely holds true for cookware; but paying more doesn't mean you're paying for an appreciable increase in quality. You don't need a name brand, but consider spending a little more for something that'll serve you better and last you longer. I'd like to stress one final time that cooking is less about what you have, and more about what you know; The greatest way to learn? Practice & experiment!
Nov 7, 2017
drakeonyou
189
Nov 7, 2017
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This is great advise. You get a thumbs up for me there. I like the part where you explained the 3 types of skillet and I would definitely keep that in mind.
Nov 7, 2017
chill78023
4
Nov 8, 2017
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Global Knife, Japanese steel
Nov 8, 2017
chill78023
4
Nov 8, 2017
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Nov 8, 2017
doublepedaldylan
48
Nov 8, 2017
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In terms of pan/pots: A large cast iron pan over any non-stick. I do have one non-stick, but I don't think I've touched it in two years. Between the cast iron and assorted tri-ply stainless pans, I have no need for a non-stick. Basically anything that would be sensitive to sticking I can do in the cast iron, and generally anything acidic can go to the stainless.
My preference, to counter another reply here, if I were forced to give up all but one skillet, I would keep my cast iron in a heartbeat.
Nov 8, 2017
neongirl
7
Nov 8, 2017
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One great knife and a sharpener. I love my Global Chef's knife, I use it for everything. Make sure you get the proper style sharpener for your blade (Asian knives have a different bevel / angle). I have a whetstone which was aspirational (I don't use it), and a two wheel handheld thing that is very easy to use.
Nov 8, 2017
A community member
Nov 8, 2017
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I have a pretty large kitchen, so I have nonstick, stainless steel AND cast iron pans and I use them all. Probably the pans I use most often are my Le Creuset that I got 40 years ago. Really, tho, my most useful kitchen tools are my printed out recipes and a pencil. I make notes on all the recipes that I make about what worked, what didn't, what changes I made and even who I served it to, sometimes.
Nov 8, 2017
Rgconner
61
Nov 8, 2017
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I inherited several large leCreuset pieces from my mother-in-law when she passed away. Pieces I would never justify buying for myself.
I am hoping she enjoys looking down and seeing me use them, she always loved my cooking.
(Yes, I am that rare guy that loved his MIL...)
Nov 8, 2017
josh.russell
236
Nov 9, 2017
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1. Paring knife (I prefer a 4 inch). 2. Chef's knife (I prefer an 8 inch). 3. A couple of glass bowls, ideally with lids. One larger, one smaller ideally. 4. A set of good kitchen towels. 5. Medium sized cutting board. 6. A 10 inch fry/saute pan. 7. Whisk. 8. Measuring Cup. 9. Spatula/Turner. 10. Couple of Wooden Spoons. 11. Medium sized roasting pan. 12. Sauce pan.
Should cover the basics to make a variety of dishes.
Nov 9, 2017
Mikeymusic
20
Nov 10, 2017
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One addition! A good Dutch Oven for braised dishes
Nov 10, 2017
JDaddy
1
Nov 10, 2017
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The only thing I would add are a couple of good pairs of stainless steel kitchen tongs. I have two medium length Vollrath brushed stainless utility tongs that didn't cost much and have lasted me over 20 years. I use them more than any other utensil. I used both this evening - one to dredge and dip raw chicken cutlets, the other to turn them while cooking.
Nov 10, 2017
dasboot
1
Nov 11, 2017
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I'm no master or professional chef but I do like to have fun in the kitchen. The cookware, as Slainte specified, especially a skillet is the best investment you can make into your kitchen's repertoire. I would suggest looking into specials/sales on a nice, albeit expensive, one since it can really get its worth over the years (Plus lifetime guarantees are an added perk). A nonstick variant is my typical go-to since its just easier on the clean up. Just a few thoughts, but experimenting is the best part of the kitchen. Once you figure out what you like to cook with, it will make your experience that much better.
Nov 11, 2017
mjsonne
5
Nov 11, 2017
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#1 - An oven thermometer. Your oven's dial is lying to you. I promise.
12" Stainless Skillet 4qt Sauce Pan 8qt Stock Pot OXO Nylon Tongs Wooden or bamboo Spoon Colander - This one - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BUDDVM/?tag=cioequippilot-20 Cheap, light, stainless, Mixing Bowls - These ones - https://www.amazon.com/Vollrath-Economy-Mixing-5-Quart-Stainless/dp/B01MAT8SYV/ref=sr_1_4?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1510363063&sr=1-4&keywords=vollrath+mixing+bowl+set&dpID=31CnIrSST6L&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven when you start getting fancy (Le Creuset or Staub if you're very fancy)
Non-stick are good for eggs and sometimes fish. That's about it. SOME sticking is good. Without it you won't develop much fond (the brown bits on the bottom of the pan). That's where the real flavor is. Deglazing the fond in the pan will instantly amp up just about any dish. That's the foundation of any pan sauce.
For pots and pans, sign up for All-Clad emails and hit it big on one of their factory seconds sales. They perform just as well as first quality but have some minor scratch and dent type imperfections but nothing that you wouldn't do to brand new pans yourself. I have a mix of first and second quality All-Clad myself and in use, I can't tell the difference.
Quality multi-clad cookware will last a lifetime as long as you don't mistreat it. Hand wash as much as you can stand even if it says dishwasher safe, and don't shock the pan, i.e., rinse a hot pan in cold water. I really feel that you should buy it right, and buy it once. If you are serious about starting to cook, pick a set of cookware that you want to have, and start building the pieces as you can afford them and as you need them. For me, that was All-Clad TK. The universal lids blow but OH THE HANDLES and the entire set nests!!
For knives, I would seriously recommend the a la carte knife set put together by Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen: Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch Chef's Knife Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox Pro 3 1/4" Spear Point Paring Knife Mercer Culinary Millennia 10" Wide Bread Knife Victorinox Fibrox Pro Granton Edge Slicing/Carving Knife Victorinox Fibrox Pro 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible Kershaw 1120M TaskMaster Kitchen Shears
Teak cutting board for most cutting, OXO plastic for raw meat.
If you can only have one knife, make it the 8" chef's. That will get you very far. Bread will be a pain though.
Knives are a pretty hot topic. A lot is personal preference and the sky is virtually the limit on options and of course price. As others have stated here, Global are fantastic. I personally use Global as well. But if you are just getting started I would strongly recommend putting the money into cookware. It will last longer than knives.
Just understand that once you get started down this road, it will never end.
Nov 11, 2017
A community member
Nov 11, 2017
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I think I replied on this already, but I did some more thinking. To begin with, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on anything; don't get trash, either, tho. Get a reasonable ($50) chef's knife or 7" or 8" santoku (my preference) and a paring knife, a 10" cast iron skillet, a 10" non stick skillet (preferably oven-proof), a 2 qt saucepan and a Dutch oven. Then cook. Over a year or two, you'll figure out what's most important to you and, from that, where to spend your money, first. Then it's a spiral. After the most important things (maybe knives), you'll move on to the next most important--maybe the mixer, etc.
Nov 11, 2017
W8lkinUSA
52
Nov 11, 2017
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Aspiring cooks have greater flexibility. Aspiring chefs should focus on the tools commonly found in restaurant kitchens.
My advice would be to make some friends at culinary school as well as restaurants. They would be able to direct you towards tools that chefs should be familiar with.
Although very great at home, I doubt restaurants use cast-iron nor enameled cast-iron dutch ovens/skillets much. Some skillet designs also work better for flipping.
Even basic non-slip Forschner knives are hugely popular among chefs..
As an aspiring home cook, I have gone through a barrage of tools. I've gotten rid of most items and have been mixing and matching tools to fit my small apartment kitchen and cooking preferences.
Good luck.
Nov 11, 2017
W8lkinUSA
52
Nov 14, 2017
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I've just come across this information while digging for myself. Hope this is helpful. https://www.baconscouts.com/2015/11/a-basic-guide-to-pots-and-pans/
Nov 14, 2017
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