Well, let’s see here. You have your nice new cookware (hopefully you're working on a good patina by now) and a few helpful kitchen utensils to help get you through your home dinner service. Now its time to break out the heavy artillery. This is the stuff that will make you feel like one of those cooks on TV who always have the nice, shiny, but quiet electric equipment that chops purees, crushes, and mixes. Now this shit ain't cheap. This is the equipment that you really only want to buy once every ten years (depending on how much you use it of course) so be sure that whatever you buy, it is a quality item so you are not wasting you time or money on a big piece of junk. A lot of these pieces will save you time as well as future rheumatoid arthritis (knead bread dough for 20 minutes and you will understand). But before you buy any of these magnificent machines, be prepared to ask yourself some questions:
Question #1- Do I need this?
This is the base question. You don't need to buy a juicer if you never drink juice. A shit ton of people fall into this trap. I know the juicer looks nice, and it will make you want to make juice more often, but it more than likely will just wind up being a 25 lb paper weight.
Do I have the space for this?- You better make goddamn sure you have space in your cabinets or on shelves somewhere in the kitchen before you drop a mountain of money on a machine you will never see. Out of sight, out of mind right?
Can I afford this- Seriously, if you can't afford any of this stuff then you shouldn’t go into crazy debt just so you can make waffles every other month. It’s that simple.
There are obviously hundreds more questions you could ask yourself (how long will it last, what’s the best model, why does it hurt when I pee), but those three will immediately let you know if you should be purchasing a kitchen appliance. If you are ready to go and get an electric appliance then here is a small list of devices I couldn’t live without and think you shouldn’t either. Notice that there are no ridiculous items on this list (rice cookers, George Foreman grills, popcorn machines). This is because they are either pointless (popcorn machine) or fall under the heading of " I made a mistake when I was younger and bought this piece of shit and realized immediately that I was a rube who just got had" (rice cooker, George Foreman grill). Do not be fooled by machines that claim you will instantly be a master chef in the kitchen. They are the culinary equivalent of penis enlargement commercials. Just stick with the basics first and then if you feel the need to blow some money then the choice is yours (I will say I told you so though).
I’m going to try and go smallest to biggest on this go-around. Let’s begin.
Coffee Grinder- A coffee grinder is not only to be used for grinding coffee my friend, oh no, it’s so much more. Just because it’s in the name doesn’t not make it a monolithic unitasker. Any hard spice you want to dispatch into a cloud of fine dust, this is your device. It is the best thing to get for making spice blends to be used as rubs for meat or blends for stews. Try grinding up a cinnamon stick in a mortar and pestle and you will understand what I’m talking about.
Immersion Blender- Lets say you have a hot pot full of potatoes, leeks, and cream. You want to blend it, but not too much, and without the horrible third degree burns that usually cover your face and hands after the blender that you use blows up in your face. This is when you will require the service of the immersion blender. Besides being just dead-easy to use, immersion blenders keep one hand free to do, ummmm, whatever you want to do with it (I don’t judge). Soups, fixing chunky sauces (or lumpy gravy), and whipped cream (some come with whisk attachments) are all at the touch of your lazy little fingers. The one thing to remember is this is NOT a substitute for a Cuisinart or a blender. It will not puree things as finely as a blender or a Cuisinart. You would have to sit at your pot and blend for 30 minutes to get every little particle (asparagus is especially tricky). But otherwise, these hand held blenders are pretty useful.
Toaster Oven- Ahh the toaster oven. A friend to potheads across the country who don’t want to have their pizza sogged out by a microwave and too impatient to let the big oven crisp it up. The toaster oven is much more than a munchie maker……. no, it really isn’t but that’s ok. When you quickly need to crisp up or reheat something that you don’t want completely fucked up by a microwave then this is your tool. It will also save you money on your gas bill since you are not using your oven. Yes, it takes a little longer but does a microwave make toast?
(the answer is: fuck no)
Coffee Maker- This sells itself. If you enjoy coffee or miss all of that Ritalin and speed you did in college; you need a coffee maker. You probably already have one so I have no idea why I’m even trying to push it. I will say though that for the record, I rarely drink coffee. There I said it, wanna fight? My wife does drink coffee however, and loves the coffee maker I gave to her a couple of years ago (which is the one I’m linking to). It also makes a mean espresso so she can deal with my grumpy ass in the morning. If, however, you do not have the space for one of these, and they do get pretty sizable, then get a French press. Used for all types on liquid infusions, they are incredibly easy to use, clean and will make you the best two cups of coffee you have ever had. I use mine for tea and it’s super-rad.
Blender- Always the constant companion of those loveable assholes that call themselves parrot heads, the blender is another appliance you should own. The blender at my house is really only used for drinks. Smoothies mostly, but alcoholic blender drinks are up there as well. One non drink thing I do with my blender is to make crepe batter with it. It makes it super fast and blends the batter perfect as well as chopping the herbs for the savory crepes.
Waffle Maker- I like waffles. Who doesn’t like waffles?
Crock Pot- The crock pot is not just for your mom’s key swap parties anymore. There are actual culinary uses for the crock pot that go totally overlooked just because they are looked as a useless dinosaurs. Do you like baked beans? Goddamn right you do. Now you can make some righteous slow cooked baked mutha fuckin beans with your old school crock pot. Duck confit? When it’s simmered at under a boil for hours it’s no problem. There are new devices that can convert your boring old crocker into a new fangled sous vide cooker. Just plug your crock pot into the device and then set the temperature and let it go until you are ready for the sous vide gods (Ferran Adria & Thomas Keller) to let you know when its ready. Also, you might want to every now and then use it to keep food warm during parties. Like I do every time I use it.
Cuisinart Food Processor - The Cuisinart is one of the culinary greats. It’s so badass that even when food processors aren’t made by Cuisinart, culinary professionals still call them Cuisinart. It is one of those items, that when you get one, you feel like an adult. You have suffered through the crappy imitations and now you have finally gotten the real deal. It chops, it slices, it grates, it purees, and it even will help you put together a mean pie dough. I use my Cuisinart as much as I possibly can (I just got a real one this year as well), and it is worth the relatively hefty price. This is an item I recommend saving up for because it is so well made and does the job you need it for perfectly every time.
Kitchenaid Mixer- Not just for Martha Stewart anymore, the Kitchenaid mixer is the crème de la crème of kitchen appliances. It’s usually the most expensive appliance that a lot of people own in their kitchens and if you know how to use it properly, you will get every penny. We all know well and good that it mixes stuff, but did you know that it also makes sausages? Well, if you didn’t, then welcome to the future my friend. There are so many damned attachments for the Kitchenaid that they are starting to run out of ideas and are popping out some pretty useless shit (do we really need a grater attachment or a juicer attachment?). But the attachments that are useful transform this heavy bastard (mine weighs 30lbs) into a completely different appliance. The aforementioned grinder and stuffer attachments help you to make great sausages or give you the option to grind your own meats for burgers and pates. The pasta roller attachments turn making your own pasta into a quick and easy way to flex your culinary knowledge and feel like a badass. There is also an ice cream maker that once you use it, the temptation to make ice cream all of the time will only be hindered by the fact that your fat ass can’t get off of the couch because you ate so much damn ice cream. The downside of this spectacular machine is that it is expensive (some up to $550), but there are varying sizes and models that go down to as low as $239. This is still expensive but a little easier for the beginner to feel comfortable about getting one. If you are getting serious about your food and what you are more and more willing to make at home, then this contraption is without a doubt an essential. If you have ever tried kneading your own bread dough (which I do recommend trying a few times) then it pays for itself after the 7th time using it.
So I hope that this list helped you in anyway to get your collection of kitchen appliances started. This will more than likely be the last installment (or at least the last for a long long time) of the award winning shit you will need series. And by award winning, I mean no body reads it. We will start with terms, techniques and recipes within the week. I will be posting more frequently now that I’m done with these time consuming rants.