Put Down the Tweezers: 6 Practical Alternatives to Pro Kitchen Tools

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Ask any skilled prepare dinner in regards to the “essential” gear they use all through a busy day within the kitchen, and also you’ll get a laundry listing of things that vary from costly and area of interest (we’re you, plating chopsticks) to low-cost and expendable (like plastic deli containers). However too typically we see these instruments of the commerce really helpful for everybody when there are alternatives which might be higher suited to the house prepare dinner. As somebody with years of restaurant expertise, I’ve knife rolls (sure, plural) filled with issues I haven’t touched since my final kitchen job, as a result of my weeknight dinners don’t require fish tweezers or a tourné knife. So let’s discuss why some frequent chef gear isn’t at all times sensible for everyone, and the helpful alternate options which might be important to the house prepare dinner.

1. As an alternative of blue-stripe rags, get kitchen towels price protecting

Restaurant towels are utility rags which might be appropriate for cleansing and wiping up spills. Good-quality dish towels are thicker and extra absorbent than blue-stripe rags, and so they’re extra engaging. Photograph: Sarah Kobos

Blue-stripe cotton kitchen towels have lengthy been ubiquitous at the back of the home. They’re small, skinny, and never exceptionally absorbent, however eating places nonetheless use them for a easy motive: They’re low-cost. All restaurant linens take a beating, however kitchen towels get the lion’s share of abuse. Cooks plunge them into buckets of sizzling bleach water, the place they sit, ready to mop up spills and wipe down surfaces. The dirty-linen bag on the finish of a busy dinner service is full of a dystopian pile of dirty, stained—and typically singed—moist rags. So it’s comprehensible that eating places don’t wish to pay so much for his or her kitchen towels, which run about 20¢ a pop by way of a linen service.

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Most dwelling cooks are a lot nicer to their kitchen towels and don’t undergo them like they’re Kleenex. So deal with your self to a very good set of larger, extra absorbent kitchen towels, such because the Williams Sonoma All Objective Pantry Towel. After years of testing, these 100% cotton towels proceed to beat out the competitors for high quality, sturdiness, and worth. They usually are available in a bunch of colours, if that’s necessary to you.

2. Commerce flimsy deli tubs for versatile glass storage containers

Deli containers (left) are nice for liquids, however food-storage containers (proper) are rather more sensible for leftovers. Photograph: Sarah Kobos

Plastic deli containers are one of many main food-storage selections in {many professional} kitchens as a result of they’re low-cost and light-weight, and so they are available in a number of sensible sizes (sometimes quart, pint, and half-pint). Cooks maintain their prepped substances in these unassuming plastic tubs in order that they’re organized and prepared for service, and deli containers are undeniably useful for that. However they maintain odors and may stain simply. The plastic additionally will get very brittle when frozen, and a container will shatter should you drop it. Plus, although the bathtub form is good for soups, stews, and shares, it’s not supreme for leftover lasagna or casserole (except you want unrecognizable gruel—no judgments!). The principle factor that makes deli containers nice for eating places is strictly what makes them not nice for dwelling cooks: They’re low-cost and extremely expendable. (Stains and cracks don’t matter when you’ll be able to simply seize a brand new container from a towering stack.)

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For many dwelling cooks, we advocate sturdier food-storage containers made out of tempered glass as a result of they’re odorless, stain and shatter resistant, and oven-safe. Our high decide is the Pyrex Merely Retailer set, which incorporates containers in numerous sizes and styles, making them helpful for protecting all kinds of leftovers. In our checks, the Pyrex containers survived a number of drops from counter peak, whereas the deli containers broke on affect. And in contrast to plastic containers, the Pyrex containers can double as baking dishes.

3. Skip silicone baking mats and get multipurpose parchment paper

You possibly can trim parchment to suit your baking sheets. However a silicone baking mat is ineffective if it’s too huge for the pan. Photograph: Sarah Kobos

A silicone baking mat is an attractive prospect: a reusable different to parchment paper. However although it has its makes use of, a silicone baking mat has many downsides. Pastry cooks depend on silicone mats to bake sure delicate pastries, like florentines and macarons. The super-slick floor permits florentine batter to unfold out, and it shields the bottoms of macarons from direct warmth, protecting them pale and excellent. For a lot of frequent cookie recipes, nonetheless, extra spreading and fewer browning isn’t supreme: Chocolate chip cookies will bake into skinny saucers.

Be warned, too, that silicone holds on to grease, smells, and mud with a tenacious grip. Nothing wanting the most popular faucet water and ample unscented dish cleaning soap (silicone additionally absorbs the scent in detergent) will take away oily residue after baking. Storing the mats in a drawer will assist maintain them lint-free, however doing so is difficult, since they don’t keep rolled up on their very own. Wirecutter kitchen editor (and former professional baker) Marguerite Preston retains hers furled in rest room paper tubes.

We desire parchment paper for many dwelling baking initiatives as a result of it’s nonstick and you’ll trim it to suit your baking sheets, cake pans, and ramekins. Plus, in contrast to silicone mats, parchment is the perfect factor to make use of for cooking en papillote meals or wrapping up logs of cookie dough or compound butter to freeze. And I wouldn’t consider braising lamb shanks with out a cartouche.

4. Don’t trouble with carbon metal skillets—forged iron is able to prepare dinner

Clockwise from high: a flippantly seasoned carbon metal pan, a traditional Lodge 12-inch cast-iron skillet (our also-great decide in our assessment of cast-iron skillets), and an unseasoned carbon metal pan. Photograph: Sarah Kobos

Eating places use carbon metal pans as a result of they’re sturdy, low-cost, and nonstick (when correctly seasoned). Consider them as light-weight cast-iron skillets with lengthy handles. However carbon metal isn’t a very nice materials for cookware—it doesn’t warmth as evenly as tri-ply, nor does it maintain as a lot warmth as forged iron. Like cast-iron skillets, carbon metal skillets will rust in the event that they’re not seasoned correctly (coated with polymerized fats, which makes them nonstick). However in contrast to cast-iron skillets, new carbon metal skillets sometimes come unseasoned and coated with a layer of oil or wax to stop them from rusting. It’s a must to scrub off the protecting coating with sizzling, soapy water after which season the pan with smoking-hot oil earlier than you can begin cooking. In spite of everything of that, the preliminary seasoning will nonetheless look blotchy, as a result of slick carbon metal doesn’t take a seasoning in addition to flippantly textured forged iron does. It might take weeks, if not months, for a house prepare dinner to create a shiny black seasoning on a brand new carbon metal skillet.

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Save your self the work and get a preseasoned cast-iron skillet, should you don’t have already got one. Forged iron is nice for high-heat searing, and it’s slick sufficient for frying eggs. (We additionally like nonstick skillets for cooking egg dishes that require gentler warmth, like French omelets.) In checks for our information to cast-iron skillets, we discovered that the Lodge Chef Assortment 12-inch cast-iron skillet is the perfect as a result of it has a sturdy manufacturing unit seasoning that’s just about nonstick proper out of the field, and it weighs about 2 kilos lower than most cast-iron pans in its reasonably priced worth vary. Sure, it’s nonetheless heavier than its carbon metal cousins. However the thick forged iron holds extra warmth (as soon as it will get sizzling) than carbon metal does. We’ll at all times select forged iron for fried rooster, seared ribeye steaks, and the occasional Spanish tortilla.

5. Depart the Thermapen and take the ThermoPop

At a 3rd of the worth, the ThermoWorks ThermoPop (left) is simply as correct because the $100 Thermapen (proper). Photograph: Sarah Kobos

Each prepare dinner may use an instant-read thermometer, which is invaluable for gauging when your meat, poultry, or fish is completely cooked. However whereas it’s price it for cooks to put money into the $100 ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4, dwelling cooks can get every part they want from a thermometer that prices so much much less. Cooks love the Thermapen as a result of it’s ultra-fast, correct, and sturdy—and we made it the improve decide in our information to instant-read thermometers for a similar causes. These qualities are essential within the time-starved and tumultuous surroundings of knowledgeable kitchen. However should you’re not smoking 50 briskets on the hottest barbecue spot on the town or roasting prime rib for 300 company, the Thermapen might be overkill.

Most dwelling cooks can be happy with the a lot smaller and extra reasonably priced ThermoPop, our high decide. Made by the identical firm that makes the Thermapen, however accessible for lower than half the worth, the ThermoPop has the identical temperature vary (-58 to 527 levels Fahrenheit) and backlit rotating show. It’s only a bit slower: The ThermoPop takes 4 seconds to register a studying inside 1 diploma of accuracy, whereas the Thermapen takes about 2 seconds. In our expertise, this lag is just about unnoticeable.

6. Don’t twiddle with tweezers—get a grip with tongs

We attain for tongs as a result of they’re the perfect software—whether or not you’re grilling rooster items or flipping a seared steak. Tongs are additionally handy for serving salads. Photograph: Sarah Kobos

Cooks and meals stylists depend on kitchen tweezers to assist them create completely composed plates. I’ve a number of pairs of kitchen tweezers languishing in my knife roll from my restaurant and food-styling days, however I don’t give them a second thought now that I prepare dinner largely at dwelling and my weeknight dinners don’t require laser precision. Which is why I chuckle once I learn articles that herald kitchen tweezers as an “essential” software “you need.” The examples specified by these items—flipping steaks, fishing woody herb stems from a stew, and digging capers out of a slender jar—are all issues you are able to do with tongs or a fork.

Tongs are cheaper and rather more versatile than tweezers. We just like the Winco Additional Heavyweight tongs as a result of they’ve the grippiest ideas and are essentially the most snug to make use of of all those we examined. I can’t think about grilling meat, shifting sizzling pans across the oven, or transferring a roast rooster to a carving board with out my 12-inch tongs. I even use my 16-inch tongs to seize stuff from excessive cabinets. Humble kitchen tongs might not be trendy or cool, however they’re low-cost and really helpful.

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