Working at a kitchen store has its perks, and one of my favorites is that I can try out most kitchen gadgets and appliances before I buy them. This way I know what's a worthwhile time-saver and what's a one-use space-waster. Why buy one of those garlic-chopper thingies when you can use ... a knife?
I hate buying things I can only use once a year, so I've come up with a list of items you'll use immediately during the holiday season, but will come in handy throughout the year. Take advantage of Black Friday sales and pick a few of these up.
- Fat separator Seriously, y'all. I do not know how I lived before I owned this thing. A fat separator is a sort of measuring cup that has a low-set spout. You pour your pan juices (or other liquids, which I'll get to in a second) into the fat separator, and the fat from the juices rises to the top of the cup. You can then pour the flavorful liquid, no defatted back into the pan to make a gravy that's not greasy. This is especially important for making turkey gravy, because large turkeys give off so many liquids as they roast. I make a lot of homemade stocks that need defatting, and this tool makes that process, which I usually do once a month or so, SO much quicker and easier. You can use this for any type of pan sauce, too. (oxo.com $14.99)
- Pastry blender If you have a sturdy food processor, you may not need this. But if, like me, you don't, a pastry blender is invaluable for making any type of short pastry like holiday pie dough. I can't tell you how much better my biscuits have gotten since I started using one of these bad boys to cut butter into my flour mixture. You want these to feel sturdy and comfortable in your hand, just like buying a chef's knife. While you can find ones with built-in crimpers for your pie edges, I find this one from Crate and Barrel to be easier to use because the thumb rest allows for more vigorous blending. ($9.99 at CrateandBarrel.com)
- Roasting pan Aside from my sheet pans, this is one of the more versatile pieces of cookware in my kitchen. Obviously, you need one to cook a turkey (unless you're deep frying yours, in which case, what time should I come over?), but you can use it for Christmas ham or Hanukkah lamb. I use mine to roast chicken (one of my all-time favorite meals) during the year, as well as roasting bones for stocks. Roasting pans are also handy when making dishes that require a water bath, such as custards or cheesecakes. ($99.95 from SurLaTable.com)
- Immersion blender These little guys pack a lot of power into an affordable package, and are essential if you need to puree just about anything. Use yours immediately to make silken gravy or custard filling for pies, but I use mine to puree homemade soups right in the pot. Even better, my Cuisinart model comes with a detachable head that can go in the dishwasher, so cleanup is a snap, certainly easier than cleaning an actual blender. ($29.95 from Cuisinart)
Image via oxo.com
Image via crateandbarrel.com
Image via surlatable.com
Image via cuisinart.com