If you’re a Food Network fangirl like us, Alex Guarnaschelli is a household name. And as an Iron Chef and longtime judge on Chopped, this lady sure does know her way around the kitchen. Here, she shares her top five must-have kitchen essentials to elevate any cook from takeout master to chef de cuisine.
1. A simple paring knife—And one that doesn’t break the bank. “I almost say the cheaper the better,” she admits. “My absolute favorite is a Sabatier. The knife is lightweight and easy to hold while the blade itself is pretty easy to keep sharp.”
2. A microplane grater—“I remember when the Microplane came on the scene. For the first few years, any time anyone asked me for a ‘favorite kitchen gadget,’ this was it. Removing the woody, stringy aspect from ginger, turning garlic to a liquidy paste in seconds. Extracting just the top skin layer from citrus zest and leaving the pith behind? It’s such an easy tool to use and it can make intense, basic flavors so much more pure and easy to get to.” Well, holy pith, say no more.
3. A kitchen cleaner—Raise your hand if this is the first thing you didn’t have to Google. Though this one may seem like a no-brainer, not just any disinfectant makes the cut. “Lysol Daily Cleanser is my go-to for quick cleanups around the kitchen and home. It’s made with three simple ingredients and leaves behind no harsh chemical residue, so I feel safe to use it around my kitchen and on food prep areas.”
4. A 12-inch cast iron skillet—This one’s her desert-island pan, folks. “To me, this is like the wide-open country road. Great for getting red hot and searing a steak or hamburgers, fun for baking a pie or cornbread for a good crust and different presentation. I honestly would cook just about anything in one.” Us too, Alex, us too.
5. A mortar and pestle—“I love using a mortar and pestle to grind toasted spices.” (Note to self: Buy toasted spices.) “I also make garlic or onion ‘paste’ and then smear it on top of a roast just before cooking. It forms a delicious crust and the sugar, particularly in onions or shallots, tastes so good on top of the meat once it’s cooked.” Not just for guacamole…who knew?
BRB, hitting up Sur La Table ASAP.