Let’s talk Kitchen Basics: Part III – “Equipment”
In parts I & II we covered the basic pantry staples, and some basics of food safety rules. Now we are ready to move on. Let’s talk about what type of basic equipment every cook should have. Of course, we could spend thousands of dollars or a couple hundred dollars on kitchenware. I have some equipment that I’ve inherited and some that were given to me as gifts. So when I first moved out on my own that was my starting point. I began cooking with a few basic utensils, a few pots, a frying pan and a baking dish. The more comfortable I became in the kitchen the larger my equipment list became. I would suggest to start with the minimum and the more you cook and learn the more you will eventually find out which cooking equipment is your favorite. You will develop your own personal style of cooking which will in turn dictate what equipment you will invest in to expand your kitchen equipment list. It all depends on what you enjoy eating.
Let’s start with the basic minimum and go from there.
Knives: There are 3 basic knives every cook should own.
A Chef’s Knife. Used for almost all kitchen tasks. They come in varying blade lengths. An 8” blade is most commonly used. However, some might prefer the 10” blade especially if you have big hands. I prefer the 6” blade, not because my hands are tiny, but because of my carpel tunnel and arthritic hands. With the smaller blade I feel I have more control of the 6” blade and it is much lighter.
A Paring Knife. Used for peeling, trimming and other precise tasks. It’s nice to have a couple varying styles too.
A Long Serrated Knife or Bread Knife. A must for bread and other baked foods (splitting cakes) or for large fruits and vegetables.
5 Crucial Pots and Pans.
You might want to do a little research as to what best suites your cooking preferences and style. Copper, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, cast iron, etc. But there are 5 crucial Pots and Pans no kitchen should be without.
Large deep skillet. 12” across and 2” – 3” deep with a lid. Mostly used to sauté, stir fry and pan roast foods.
Large stockpot w/ a lid. Some uses include cooking pasta, making stock, braising big cuts of meat, parboiling, steaming vegetables and more.
Medium skillet w/ lid. 8” – 10” across. Used for sautéing, stir-frying, cooking eggs, etc.
Large Dutch over or Saucepan w/ lid. Used for stews, soups, deep frying, etc.
Small or Medium Saucepan w/ lid. Used for warming, cooking, reheating, boiling eggs, etc.
Ovenware. 4 Essential pans.
Rectangular casserole dish. 9 x 13 at least 2” deep. Used for roasts, baked potatoes, roasting vegetables, etc.
Large Rimmed baking sheet. Used for baking cookies, warming, crisp-roasting meat or vegetables, etc.
Square pan. 8” – 9”. Used for everything, baking brownies, roasting vegetables, warming, etc.
Large Roaster w/ rack and lid. Size will depend on your cooking preferences. For example mine can hold a 22 lb. turkey. Generally used for roasting large cuts of meat, prime rib roast, roast beef, ham, turkey, etc.
Some other suggested pans for the oven:
Standard load pan
Pie plate, 9”
2 cake pans, 9”
3 piece corningware casserole set
12 Must-Have Kitchen Tools:
Mixing bowls. Various sizes. small, medium, large.
Cutting Boards. 1 is plenty but I prefer to have a few different sizes, as well as ones for specific meats and fish.
Wooden, stainless spoons (some for non-stick cookware).
Spatulas, one narrow and one wide.
Pot holders, and/or mitts.
Measuring cups, for liquid and dry ingredients
Time. Although, now a days, most ovens are equipped with their own.
Some extra tools you might want to consider:
Wire cooling racks. (Mostly, used to cool baked foods, i.e.; cookies, pies, muffins, etc.
Bushes. The rubber ones are cool and you won’t find hair on your food.
Ice cream scooper.
Diffuser. (What is this?)
Here are some basic electric gadgets you also might consider.
Well, as you can see there are many different types of kitchen equipment to consider and your selections will depend on your style of cooking and which foods you prefer to prepare. So go over the list and select the most important ones you would need first. Then add a little at a time. Before long you will find out which ones are your favorite and which ones you can’t live without. And like most cooks you will upgrade, buy better brands and end up with equipment that gets pushed to the back of the pantry to collect dust. So I would recommend a small list to learn what you’re comfortable with and grow from there.