Each week J. Kenji Lopez-Alt drops by with a list of tools or a tool you might want to stock your kitchen with—if you haven't already. Kenji also writes The Food Lab column here on SE. You can fan The Food Lab on Facebook for play-by-plays on his future kitchen tests and recipe experiments.—The Mgmt.
Normally my equipment posts focus on comparing a few of the top contenders for a single product. This week, instead I'm going to present you with my new spatula. I love my new Due Buoi Wide Spatula ($36) almost as much as I love the beautiful smashed burgers I'm going to create with it. If you are partial to smashed burgers or do a lot of heavy-duty grill or griddle work, I'd suggest you add one of these to your arsenal immediately.
Ever since I saw the Feedbag's video of Randy Garutti demonstrating the proper smashing technique for a Shack Burger, I've been on a quest for a spatula worthy of wielding on my meat. I've finally found it.
My new spatula is exceedingly sexy, in that mostly platonic inanimate metallic object kind of way. It's got a business-end that's 5 inches long, a generous girth of 3.9 inches at the front, and a hefty weight of 7.76 ounces (220 grams). It's a size that can't be beat; just large enough to successfully smash a ball of beef into a 4-inch patty or flip a couple portions worth of browning home fries, without being so large that it doesn't fit into a small skillet.
The blade and handle are formed out of a single piece of cast stainless steel, which clocks in at a thickness of .04 inches (1 mm, or approximately 18 gauge). This is important. A thinner, more flexible spatula would create an unevenly shaped smashed patty, failing to maximize contact between the beef and the hot pan. It also means you can do things like lift whole turkeys or rib roasts with reckless abandon.
The head is offset from the handle at 34.504 degrees (.602 radians)—a value that has been precisely and scientifically calculated to the third decimal place by some of the greatest mathematicians of our time to be the optimal angle for pressing into a skillet without burning your knuckles.
By flipping the spatula over, its keen and sturdy front edge substitutes handily for a paint scraper, allowing you to ensure that every last bit of flavorful crisp crust stays firmly attached to your burger or steak, instead of the pan.
The handle is made from tough, durable polycarbonate* and features a full tang, for optimal strength and balance. This baby's gonna last a lifetime.
And there's a musical bonus: When struck daintily against the cutting board, the Due Buoi Wide Spatula vibrates at precisely 587.33 hertz (really!), with an outstanding overtone series of a quality and timbre even Stradivarius would be proud to apply his famous varnish to.
It's the very thing during that all-too-common situation when I desperately need to tune the fourth string of my guitar while applying cheese to my burger.
I found my spatula at Williams-Sonoma for a surprisingly not-that-marked-up-price. Outside of retail locations, I've only seen it on offer from the Due Buoi website itself for $36.
Great discoveries like these make me really excited to get into the kitchen. Finding this was almost as good as the time when I was 25 years old and discovered that there was a Beatles song that I'd never heard.**
Anyone else got a simple kitchen tool that really gets them going?
*Polycarbonate handles are great for "branding": using the edge of a really hot metal pan to melt an identifying mark into the handle to prevent anyone with slightly sticky fingers from claiming it as their own. It's a trick that comes in handy in restaurant kitchens.
**The song was "It's All Too Much," and I'm comfortable saying that it's the most obscure officially released Beatles track, as it was only released on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album, which never even entered the charts. It was out or print for years until the 1987 re-issue on CD, and even then difficult to find until the 1999 re-reissue that coincided with the DVD release of the re-mastered version of the film.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.