Now that we're past the silly season of appliances that only see the light of day when the Chia Pets come out, the Accidental Locavore was thinking about kitchen gear that I don't own and why. The gear that made this list was just what I've recently considered owning. As you will see, a lot comes down to size, storage, counter space and usefulness. If you're a staunch defender of any of them, please comment and let me know what I might be missing and I'll clear out a place for them!
- Pressure cooker: True confession, there's a bit of a fear factor here. Growing up, pressure cookers exploded. Watching Top Chef, pressure cookers get stuck closed, requiring much hysteria to pry them open (if I want that much stress, I'll just go back to dealing with my health insurance). Storage is an issue -- they take up a lot of room and there's a lid to deal with, too. Usage comes into it, too -- how much cooking time is a pressure cooker going to save? Mark Bittman recently had a delicious-looking recipe for lamb meatballs made in a pressure cooker. The total time for these is 30 minutes. I'm going to make these meatballs, probably on top of the stove, and cooking them like that probably adds no more than another half hour to the cook time.
- Deep fat fryer: It is said that if you fry foods properly, it doesn't add much fat to the food. We'll agree to take that on faith. To me, a fryer is the beginning of a lot more fried foods chez moi. Because I hate the smell of previously fried food (which is what you get when you deep fry in a pan), I very rarely do it. This is probably good news to my waistline and my doctor. Deep fat fryers also demand a lot of valuable kitchen real estate, along with the large containers of oil needed to feed the beast.
- Sous-vide machine: This is a tough one. I've come extremely close to buying a cute little red sous-vide machine a few times and backed off at the last minute. Why? Space is the first consideration and even though I have a big kitchen with ample storage, it's rapidly running out of space. Truthfully, I'm not sure how much I would actually use it. They're wonderful for duck confit and perfectly cooking fish, but I've developed a pretty good hack, using my slow cooker (another space hog), so haven't been able to justify it, even in red.
- Combi oven: I was fascinated by the raves the new Cuisinart combi oven got in a recent Food & Wine. This puppy steams, convects, bakes, broils, toasts, will change the way you cook forever (or something like that) and is pretty reasonably priced. Think of it as being a larger than a toaster oven and smaller than a microwave and you'll know why it's not on its way to my house. No counter space, and this isn't something you wouldn't keep on the counter. So the cooking/baking will have to proceed in its usual fashion.
- Induction burner: For my city crash pad, this would have been a relative no-brainer, but for one thing: out of all the pots and pans that we own (and trust me there are plenty!) only three of them would work on an induction burner. Who knew, in the glory days of Calphalon that someday in the future there would be induction cooking? While the burner is extremely functional, pretty compact and inexpensive, buying and storing new cookware isn't.