Great kitchens are composed of great equipment, big and small. As we stated in our inaugural review back in 2016, there are thousands of kitchen tools, gadgets and accessories you can spend your dollars on. But until you take the time to get your hands on them in the real world you can’t easily know if a tool is worth the price, or the valuable space it takes up in your kitchen. These three tools, however, are worth both.
Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (model WAF-F20B) ($73; amazon.com)
Observant readers will note our use of this waffle maker in a recent column post on Liège waffles. While there exist dozens of waffle iron options, the ability to crank out two waffles at a time (great for hosting brunches), cooked within a rather precise temperature range, for a rather precise window of time, and all with a price under $100, makes this Cuisinart model unbeatable. The Cuisinart does magic to waffle batter for 3 to 4 1/2 minutes at 400-435 degrees. Any less equals pale and limp waffles; any more equals overly toasted, dried out Frisbees. The Cuisinart nails it.
Thermowork Instant Read Oven Alarm Thermometer DOT ($43; thermoworks.com)
At the risk of being that broken-record, we’ve never stopped exhorting readers to employ instant-read thermometers. The basis of this practice is the fact that heating food is subject to numerous variables, to an extent that precludes the bygone method of cook times. Tyler Florence can tell you to braise that 3-pound chuck roast for “about” three hours; but how do you actually know it’s medium-rare and not rare without slicing into the thing? Julia Child will tell you to cook your chicken breasts until the juices “run clear”; but this requires removing the chicken from the oven to periodically check on said juices. No thank you. If, instead, it is known that chuck roasts are perfectly medium-rare at 130 degrees, and that chick breasts are just cooked through at 160 degrees, then we can simply set the DOT thermometer to alarm at 10 degrees under these thresholds, and then let the meat rise those last degrees as it rests. That’s scientific perfection that should be appreciated.
Victorinox’s Fibrox Pro Carving Knife ($20-$45; swissarmy.com)
Holding the top spot for more than 20 years at Cook’s Illustrated, this knife has been surpassed only once; and that was by a $240 gem designed by master bladesmith Bob Kramer. If you don’t have $200-plus for a kitchen knife, consider this Victorinox. Testers again and again praise its lasting sharpness (made possible by its steel alloy, x50CrMoV15, that is tempered to exacting Swiss standards), and its ergonomic comfort (ironically made possible by its lack of “ergonomic” features, something ergonomic professionals call “affordance,” or basic versatility). While various other factors play an equal role in a knife’s sharpness, e.g., proper storage and washing, an inferior knife will always be an inferior knife.