We've shared a lot of love for cast iron here at Serious Eats, but in our own kitchens there's another very similar type of pan that gets near equal use: carbon steel. Since it's more common in restaurant kitchens than homes, we've been pretty mum on the subject, but today, it's time to talk about what makes this sibling to cast iron great.
'Equipment' on Serious Eats
Let me get one thing straight with you: I don't like plastic cooking utensils. They're weak, ineffectual, melty, flimsy tools that make me feel like I'm cooking in My First Kitchen. That's up until now. For the first time in my life, I've found a plastic cooking spoon that I'm not only happy with, but that I actually find myself reaching for instead of my silicone spatula or my wooden spoon from time to time.
Mandoline-style slicers make quick work of some cutting tasks, especially when you need perfectly even, thin slices of foods—say, for making potato chips or French fries at home. We took as many as we could find for under $50 for a test drive to find the ones we like best.
If you've ever been awestruck by the texture of a purée or a soup in a fancy restaurant, odds are a high-power blender was responsible. The good news is, they're now easily available for the home cook. The bad news? There are many options, and they're pricey. We're talking at least $400. For those bucks, you want to make sure that you're getting the best blender for your needs. Here's the scoop.
For a long time, I lived in denial of how strong my feelings for carbon steel are. People would ask me what knives they should buy, and, unless they were professionals, I'd always steer them towards stainless steel. I figured I was giving good advice, since stainless steel is more forgiving, and most home cooks are looking for ease. But now I'm going to tell you what I really think: if you take cooking seriously, if you're ready to invest a little bit of time and a lot more care, and—this is a big one—if you're willing to sharpen your own knives, then carbon steel is where it's at.
Sure, kitchen shears are for cutting and snipping, but that's just the start. Here's why we think a good pair is worth having in your arsenal.
If you're still using one of those straight swivel peelers, you need to read this. Because we're convinced that this y-head peeler is better.
So when somebody asks me which wooden spoon is best, I always give the same advice I give when recommending knives, wives, or magic wands: it's an inherently personal decision. That said, there are a few important criteria to look for if you're starting from square one. Here's a spoon that meets them all and then some.
We love cast iron here at Serious Eats. We know many of our readers love it too. And for those who are really, really serious about it, the next step is to go vintage. But just how do you fix up a rusted century-old pan? We went to a pro to find out.
The Splashproof Thermapen is an indispensible tool for anyone who roasts meat, cooks steaks or chicken, barbecues, makes candy, or deep fries, but at nearly $100, it ain't cheap. Enter the ThermoPop, the new, $29 digital thermometer from the makers of the Thermapen.
I love eating salads, but I'm way more likely to do it if there's a great vinaigrette ready and waiting in my fridge. Enter the OXO Good Grips Salad Dressing Shaker, a neat little gadget designed to let you measure, mix, store, emulsify, and dispense dressing at moments notice. This is the kind of tool which makes me eat more salad, and I kinda like that.
There's a mysterious, myth-packed lore when it comes to cast iron pans. On the one hand there's the folks who claim you've got to treat your cast iron cookware like a delicate little flower. On the other, there's the macho types who chime in with their my cast iron is hella non-stick or goddam, does my pan heat evenly! In the world of cast iron, there are unfounded, untested claims left right and center. It's time to put a few of those myths to rest.
When I recently moved across the country, I knew I'd be without my full kitchen for an extended period of time. So I put together an emergency kitchen-in-a-box containing all the hand tools, small gadgets, knives, and pots I'd need to cook just about anything. Here are the contents of my Emergency Cooking Kit.
Cast iron frying pans are versatile, durable, and remarkably cheap. While pans that have passed down for generations might have a whole lot of sentimental value, you can buy a brand new cast iron frying pan without shelling out much cash. But do you think of using one when you're not frying up bacon?
Are ice balls better in cocktails than standard kitchen cubes? Does clear ice melt slower than cloudy ice? In order test out the fancy new Wintersmiths iceballer, I looked further into all of these questions.
A couple months ago I was approached by Glen Lee, an inventor who claimed to have an ingenious new device for cooking on a wok at home. If it works the way he promised it would, it's going to revolutionize home wok cooking in the same way that the Baking Steel revolutionized home pizza-making. I played around with it a lot, measuring, tinkering, and generally cooking up a storm. I'm happy to report that this thing solves a problem I've been trying to work around for over a decade.
The New Anova Precision Cooker Promises to Be the Best, Most Cost-Effective Sous-Vide Solution on the Market
Exciting news in the world of home sous-vide cooking: Anova Culinary has just announced the launch of the Anova Precision Cooker, the first major upgrade to the sous-vide cooker they introduced last year. I visited their studio in San Francisco last week to get an exclusive look at the product, which can be pre-ordered now for only $99 for the first 1,000 orders. I can confidently say that when it comes out in September, it will be the best, most cost-effective consumer-grade sous-vide solution on the market.
The new reversible Baking Steel with a baking surface on one side and a flat griddle on the other has fast become one of my favorite bits of kitchen gear, and it may well revolutionize your pizza, burger, steak, seafood, and, well, everything game.
Your coffeemaker's success relies, in large part, on your partnership. For all your fancy coffeemaker does for you each day, do you give back? Do you listen to its needs? Do you, in fact, descale?
These are my knives. There are many like them, but these ones are mine. Now I may take my love of knives to the extreme—I collect them like stamps—but every chef I've ever met who's worth his or her salt is proud of their knives. These are a mix of the ones I use the most often, the ones that have the most sentimental value for me, and the ones that I think are just plain cool.