Using my Le Creuset pot to braise lamb shanks. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

These are the big ticket recommendations from last year (and the year before, with several additions) because, well, the best equipment, like fundamental technique, doesn’t change. I always advise buying fewer items of high quality. Hope everyone had a happy and festive thanksgiving!

My go-to pot is the 7-quart Dutch Oven . 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. Here are their saucepans, plus a big sauté pan and a small one. My 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 if you do a lot of mixing and pureeing and making fruit and vegetable based drinks.

The KitchenAid stand mixer is the workhorse in my kitchen.

Here’s the food processor I recommend, also from KitchenAid.

I’ve become enamored of pressure cookers for the way they allow me to get a braised dish on the table in an hour, cook beans faster, and even make fabulous stock in a couple hours. I use this Fagor 8-Quart Pressure Cooker.

Sous vide cooking grows in popularity, so herewith my thoughts on the equipment to choose if you want to embrace this valuable form of cooking. The best immersion circulator on the market is the PolyScience Chef Series circulator. It’s made in Chicago and can stand up to the 24/7 use required by restaurant kitchens. If you want the best of the best, this is it. But PolyScience has gone outside the US to manufacture less expensive versions: The Creative Series and the Discovery Series. Both work well for home cooks who don’t sous vide seven days a week. Make your decision based on how often you intend to use it.

Of course, if counter space isn’t an issue, and if you don’t need to sous vide large items, there are other options, such as the Sous Vide Supreme which works great. And ever less expensive versions continue to enter the market, such as the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker. I haven’t tried this, and would welcome feedback from anyone who has.

For sealing food at home, The Food Saver is good at what is says it does, but for sealing food to cook sous vide, it has drawbacks (it won’t seal liquids, and sometimes the juices from the meat prevents a proper seal). Again, the PolyScience Chamber Vacuum Sealer, is astonishingly good. If you have the cash, it’s an amazing piece of equipment. A must for restaurant kitchens.

And one last note, dehydrating food is also on the rise: I recommend Excalibur 5-tray Dehydrator, the size is perfect and it’s very easy to use.

Happy shopping and lucky cooks who receive a gift mentioned in this post!


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© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.