Holiday Equipment Guide
Our holiday equipment roundup is an overview of the most essential tools for cooking those big holiday meals. Everything we've selected is multifunctional, meaning you'll get exhaustive use out of each item beyond the holidays. And we've provided a few suggestions for the right cookware to feed smaller groups this year.
For the Turkey (and other main courses)
CDN High Heat Oven Thermometer - $7.95 Have you ever followed the directions for cooking a whole turkey TO THE LETTER and still somehow it ends up taking an hour more than it should have? If this happens, most likely the temperature of your oven is off. And there are many other more delicate dishes that require precise temperatures for baking, which makes it work investing the $7.95 in a high quality, accurate in-oven thermometer.
ThermoWorks ChefAlarm - $64.00 Next to ensuring the accuracy of your oven temperature, being able to "set it and forget it" once you stick your turkey or roast in the oven is the next best thing you can do to simplify holiday cooking. With featuers like high and low temperature alarms and the ability to track temperatures of an extended period of time, this profession grade oven thermometer will help you ensure that your main course comes out of the oven perfectly cooked.
OXO Flavor Injector - $15.95 If you run out of time to brine or properly marinate your turkey or roast, the OXO Flavor Injector is the most reliable shortcut to a juicy, flavorful main course. It comes with two needles for thick and thin marinades and is easy to operate with one hand. Follow the basic formula of one cup liquid - such as broth, beer, or white wine - to one tablespoon Kosher salt. Our favorite marinade to inject into poultry? One tablespoon butter, 2/3 cups white wine and 1/3 cup orange juice added to the zest of one orange and one tablespoon Villa Jerada Aleppo Pepper.
Gravy and Sauces
Cuisipro Fat Separator Deluxe - $30.95 Sure, if you've got the time you can chill the pan drippings from your turkey so you can skim off the hardened fat the next day. But who has time for that during the holidays? With a highly perforated, tall-side strainer and a precise release valve, this fat separator is ranked #1 by America's Test Kitchen.
OXO Flat Sauce Whisk - $7.95 From scraping up the fond from the bottom of a pan to reaching into the corners of your pan while making a roux, a flat whisk is indispensable for making gravies. The flat design is less efficient at aerating liquids, but that also means that you're less likely to spill gravy over the sides of your pan while whisking.
Potatoes, Three Ways
RSVP Potato Ricer - $16.95 Mashed potatoes may be the traditional way to serve potatoes over the holidays, but the jury's still out on whether or not they're the best way. But if you're going to make them, you deserve to treat yourself to the fluffiest, smoothest mashed potatoes of your life. And to do that, you need to rice your potatoes. Rated #1 by Cook's Illustrated, the RSVP Potato Ricer comes with two interchangeable stainless steel plates - medium and coarse - and features a contoured handle with slip-proof grip.
Cuisipro Handheld Mandoline - $47.95 Ready to try something different with your potatoes? The Cuisipro Handheld Mandolin will make short work of all the slicing needed for Scalloped Potatoes - a cheesy and delightful alternative to the traditional mash. It comes with three interchangeable, replaceable blades and is fully adjustable for different thicknesses.
RSVP Hasselback Potato Guide - $7.95 Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and oh-so-buttery. Yes, we love hasselback potatoes. But painstakingly slicing our potatoes by hand? That we do not love. The RSVP Hasselback Potato Guide ensures every cut is the same thickness and depth, creating perfectly accordioned potatoes ready to be basted in an unholy amount of butter. You're welcome.
Green bean, sweet potato, wild rice - there's really no end to what tastes better when you cook it in a casserole with LOTS of cream and cheese. And because casseroles go straight from oven to table without needing to dirty up yet another serving platter, your dish might as well be as beautiful as the food you make in it. For ceramic bakeware worthy of showing off, we always turn to Emile Henry.
If you're scaling your favorite holiday casseroles this year for smaller groups, we highly recommend adjusting the size of the dish as well. The Modern Classics Baking Dish comes in two sizes. The medium baking dish measures 11" x 8" and at 3.2 quarts capacity is perfect for anyone cooking for smaller holiday gatherings this year. The large baking dish, at 13" x 9"/4.8 quart capacity is a more traditional size.
And if you're feeling extra foxy, try the Emile Henry No. 09 Ramekins - $20.95 to serve up individual portions of your favorite casseroles to your holiday diners.
Emile Henry Modern Classics Pie Dishes - $19.95 to $29.95 What would the holidays be without pie? Even if you're by yourself this year, you can still make a single portion of pie in the Emile Henry Mini Modern Classics Pie Dish. These single serving pie dishes make it easy to justify baking up the classic apple-pumpkin-pecan trio even if you're the only one around to eat them. Or you could just make a regular sized pie or two...we won't tell.
Cuisinart Food Processor: 14 Cup - $229.95 Our #1 hack for making flaky pie crust? Use a food processor. You save substantial time and effort, while yielding a truly flaky crust. But a food processor is far from a one trick pony in the kitchen - gift yourself one this year and you might be surprised at how often you use it.
Cuisipro Pastry Blender - $22.95 There's also nothing wrong with keeping it old school. A pastry blender is a good tool to have on hand - cutting fat into flour for pie crusts, biscuits and scones is substantially easier with one than say, a fork. The Cuisipro Pastry Blender has the most comfortable grip of any we've tried, and the heavy duty professional gauge steel won't bend or warp with use.
Mrs. Anderson's Ceramic Pie Weights - $6.95 Don't be deterred when a recipe tells you to "blind bake" your pie crust before adding the filling. This just means to pre-bake the shell so you don't end up with the dreaded soggy bottom. Mrs. Anderson's Ceramic Pie Weights are America's Test Kitchen favorites for a reason - they're heavy enough to keep the bottom of the crust from bubbling and conduct heat beautifully for a more even bake.
NordicWare Adjustable Pie Crust Shield - $11.95 This innovative sliding design of this pie crust shield expands and contracts to fit 9" to 11" pies, and will safe you the hassle of awkwardly constructing an ring of aluminum foil which, if we're being perfectly honest with ourselves, never really works that well anyway. It's also kind of cute, a trate we are not at all ashamed about seeking out in our kitchen equipment.
OXO Silicone Dough Rolling Bag - $14.95 If I'm being perfectly honest, I'm still intimidated by the challenge of rolling out a nearly round pie crust to the perfect diameter. OXO's Silicone Dough Rolling Bag is like the painting by numbers version of rolling out your pie dough - just stick the dough in the bag and roll until it reaches the desired diameter, as indicated by the clear markings on the bag. Is it cheating? Maybe. But we won't tell. If you're a little less anxious about dough sticking to your rolling pin than I am, but still want the handy measurements, Tovolo's Silicone Pastry Mat not only comes with measurements but also lots of nifty baking conversions printed around the sides.
HIC Rolling Pin Rubber Band Guides - $9.95 Another nifty trick for making pie dough (all types of dough) less intimidating - rolling pin guides. These rubber rings fit onto the ends of your rolling pin and help you as the roller ensure an even, perfect thickness all around. While they won't work on our French Rolling Pins from J.K. Adams (a favorite with local pastry chefs), they work great on the 2" Straight Rolling Pin and the Patisserie Rolling Pin.
- Marguerite Jodry