This page is meant to act as an ongoing list of recommendations for my most highly recommended kitchen tools and equipment. Some of these products have played a large role in improving my overall cooking skills, and I believe anyone who wants to streamline their cooking flow can benefit from them.
All-Clad 3-Quart Sauté Pan
I'll admit, I received my 3-Qt All-Clad Sauté Pan as an engagement gift, so I didn't personally pay for this $235 pan. However, I am fully prepared to buy myself the 5-Quart version because of how truly amazing it is. If you cook for 2-4 people like I do, the 3 quart sauté pan is perfect.
It's sturdy, heats up quickly and evenly, and is very easy to clean. I use it for almost anything: frying, sautéing, stir frying, quick braising, and making pasta sauces. It's a high quality, excellent product that any cook can benefit from.
12 or 13-inch Cast Iron Skillet
Cast Iron Skillets are great for many reasons. First and foremost, they're excellent at cooking things like steaks, chops, and chicken because they get very hot and retain their heat well. This high, direct heat is what gives meat that elusive crusty exterior everyone strives to achieve.
Cast Irons can do more than just sear meats. Another reason cast irons are so great is that they can go from the stovetop into the oven. This means you can first use the skillet to sear something on the stovetop and then pop it in the oven to cook through more gently.
I've had my $40 Lodge Cast Iron for a few years now and have always been really happy with it.
A Large, Enamel-Coated Dutch Oven
A Dutch Oven is a cast iron pot. Just like the cast iron skillet, it gets very hot, so it can be used to sear something on the stove before being transferred into the oven to cook more slowly. I braise many meats and meat-based sauces in my 8-quart Martha Stewart Dutch Oven.
For example, my recipe for Red Wine Ragù calls for a Dutch Oven. The ground beef, onions, garlic, and tomato paste all sear against the bottom of the hot pot and start to stick. When making sauces and braises, you want the food to stick a little. The brown bits at the bottom of the pot, or fond, are then deglazed with lots of red wine and crushed tomatoes, transferring that slight "burnt-on" flavor from the bottom of the pot to the rest of the sauce. This is why we don't use non-stick pots and pans to make gravies and braised meats. Fond is flavor, and cast iron really helps create that fond.
There are many brands worth buying. Staub and Le Creuset are probably the most well-known brands of cast iron cookware. They're pricey, but high quality. My Martha Stewart one has served me very well over the last few years, and really seems like it's going to continue to last many more years to come. I highly recommend it.
Regardless of which one you choose, make sure it's big enough to hold large cuts of meat like pork butts, and lots of sauce for Sunday Gravies. 6 and 8-quart options should be good.
Some Dutch Oven Options
Le Creuset 8-quart
Earlywood Wooden Spatulas
Earlywood is a brand of high quality wood products, mostly kitchen utensils. My favorite products are their large flat spatulas, which are both incredibly lightweight and very sturdy. They fit comfortably in your hand and allow for excellent control of whatever it is you're sautéing. Choose from 4 STUNNING wood options: Jatoba, Mexican Ebony, Hard Maple, and Bloodwood.
Kitchen Shears, also known as, Pizza Scissors
I'm not well-versed in the different shears of the world, just that you need a pair. They're really versatile, from opening vacuum-sealed plastics in a pinch to cutting up a sheet pan pizza. Just make sure you buy a pair, or two, that are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
Thermapen Mk4 Instant Read Thermometer
This amazing thermometer typically costs $99 which I personally believe is 100% worth it. It is the most worthwhile kitchen tool I own, and it will truly transform the way you cook. However, as of today June 18th, 2021, it is on sale for $69. That is a steal IMO. Here's the link.
The #1 reason to purchase an accurate instant read thermometer is to prevent over/under-cooking meat. Pressing your finger into a piece of meat to decide if it's done couldn't be less accurate.
Aside from deciding when meat is cooked, it has other uses. For instance, many recipes call for liquids like water, oil, or milk to reach a certain temperature before completing the next step. Or you may want to be sure frying oil isn't getting too hot. Trust me, once you own it, you'll use this tool all the time.
A Spider is a little piece of equipment that acts as a strainer but is designed to more easily remove things, mostly pasta in my home, from boiling water. It's also great for transferring blanched vegetables directly to a water bath.
Strainers typically do not fit properly into a pot of boiling water, and we don't always want to dump the boiling water through a colander. For instance, maybe we need to save the water to blanch more vegetables or to add to a sauce for The Pasta Water Method.
This is my favorite Spider:
That's all for now! I will update this page regularly with new recommendations, but these should get you started.