Lamb braising in my Le Creuset Dutch oven, which is a fantastic gift to give that special someone. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

This is the big ticket recommendations from last year because, well, the best equipment doesn’t change. Hope everyone had a happy and festive thanksgiving!

It’s time again for my picks for the big-ticket items, those expensive appliances and pots that are game changers, but real investments.

I’ve just started a relationship with Le Creuset, the company that makes the best enameled cast-iron cookware on earth. My go-to pot is the 7-quart Dutch Oven (they’re made in France and the company wants me to call them French ovens, which I find interesting since there really should no longer be a nationality attached to the thing; my preferred name for this one is “My Favorite Pot”). It’s what I bought my beloved Dad long ago; now, sadly, I have two of them. My other favorite is the braiser, the everyday pot in which you can cook just about anything. (Here’s one of the videos we did, where I use this pot to make an easy cassoulet.) I’m also partial to the smaller “ovens”—the 3.5-quart version is perfect if you cook for only one or two people.

For stainless-steel cookware, All-Clad is the best, and they aren’t paying me to say so. Here are their saucepans, plus a big sauté pan and a small oneMy favorite All-Clad pan is the saucier.

I recommend these Wusthof knives. You don’t need a ton of knives, but you need at least two: a chef knife (big) and a paring knife (small). A serrated knife comes in handy for slicing bread, and a flexible boning knife is helpful if you do a lot of cutting.

The Vitamix blender is an awesome machine.

The KitchenAid stand mixer. Far more important than a food processor, this is the workhorse in my kitchen.

Here’s the food processor I used to use, but the lid broke so now I have to turn it on manually and put a plate on top, which is kind of a pain. In professional kitchens, all the food processors are Robot-Coupes. They’re great, and until their marketing company contacted me and sent me one to try, I didn’t know they made one for the home kitchen. They do, it’s called a Magimix 3200, and while I don’t like the name, it’s a fabulous machine, with three different-sized bowls. Alas, available only at Williams-Sonoma.

The iPad2 and Kindle Fire HD are going to be game changers in the kitchen. These are the most exciting kitchen tools to come along in a decade. If you have one already, have a look at my bread baking app (on iTunes and Kindle Fire) and also the app for smart phones called Ratio (on iTunes). I personally use Ruhlman’s Twenty on my iPad via the Kindle app: below, the finished braised lamb shank, from Twenty.

Cooking is a craft, and good tools are a must with any craft.

Braised lamb shank

 

© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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11 Wonderful responses to “Shopping: Big Ticket Items”

  • Paul LaFreniere

    Michael:

    I used your stock making, turkey braising, dressing, and cranberry recipes this Thanksgiving. All were fabulous and made for a memorable meal! Thank you!

  • Susan

    I love, LOVE, the all clad saucier. I also love the La Creuset ovens. There are many knockoffs a lot cheaper, but I like La Creuset because it doesn’t seem as thick and therefore is less heavy than the knockoffs. They must temper the cast iron base somehow so it still retains the strength and heat holding properties without the bulk and weight. I’d take any item from this list and be pleased.

  • Allen

    Let’s not leave out that big ass Boos cutting board and awesome little Benriner.

  • Susan

    I wanted to mention, but didn’t, that I hate All Clads pot handles. They are too narrow for even my very small hands. I like the length and the grove in the handle, but as narrow as they are, the large pans are unwieldy, especially when full.

    • Julie

      I agree with you. The All-Clad handles are uncomfortable, and I too have small hands. I have both All-Clad and Viking pans and the Viking handles are much better.

  • May

    You don’t happen to have a nice recipe for braised lamb shank that you’d care to share, Michael, do you? Our local restaurants churn out particularly iffy versions of it, and I’d rather cook it myself. Have the LC Dutch/French/Canadian/Favourite Pot, buying the shanks is easy, and my DH would be thrilled if I made it for him!
    Thanks, and happy St Andrews Day, nearly!

  • Betty

    Michael:

    Since you’re the new ambassador for Le Creuset (love my dutch ovens) maybe you can answer a question for me. I noticed their skillets have a black enameled coating which I think I read it is fired at a higher temperature. How non-stick is it? I was wondering if it is possible to scramble eggs and make omelettes in them? Stainless is fine for over-easy, but scrambled eggs stick and make a mess (at least they do for me). I would prefer to avoid non-stick if possible. Traditional cast iron works, but I’m not a fan of cleaning it and they seem to retain odors. What do recommend?

    Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • John Robinson

      Eggs will stick to the black enamel – eggs will stick to anything. Just get a a cheap non-stick skillet for eggs and fish.

  • tina

    I have a few Le Creuset braisers and agree – they are well worth the investment. I keep an eye open at WInners – they sometimes come up for grabs there, usually at a great discount. One of my favourite braising recipes is beef cheeks – I use a shallow 5-quart braiser. And the parchment paper you see in Michael’s pic is a handy trick. I trim and soak a piece to cover my meat, and this helps the braising process a lot. My go-to bible for braising this time of year is Molly Stevens’ All About Braising. And here’s that beef cheek recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Beef-Cheeks-107803 Happy yummy kitchen time!

  • Paul Kobulnicky

    For all of Michael’s readers within striking distance, the semi-annual All-Clad factory sale is this coming Friday and Saturday at the Washington (PA) County fairgrounds. It’s a really fun event and a good chance to get factory seconds at a nice discount.