Those who are regular readers of this series are well acquainted with my aversion to cooking. To date, I've professed my love for quick sheet-pan meals, easy one-pan dinners, and simple pasta sauces (aka recipes that encourage cutting corners in the kitchen). However—and I never thought I'd say this—I'm starting to get into cooking. Yep, like the plot of a romantic comedy that hinges on extreme prejudice, I'm falling for cooking.
No one is more shocked than I am, but, thanks in part to a few new-to-me kitchen essentials, spending time over my stovetop has actually become an enjoyable part of my day. Ahead, I'm revealing the attainable cookware and tools that have transformed my relationship with cooking by making me feel like a chef. Spanning a classic piece of cast-iron cookware to an unassuming utilitarian wooden spoon, these are the staples I recommend adding to your kitchen arsenal stat.
A Dutch Oven
The Kitchen Essential: A dutch oven. I've waxed poetic about this classic piece of cast-iron cookware before, but it bears repeating: A dutch oven is worth every penny. The hefty pot has given me—a novice home cook who regularly makes oatmeal for dinner—the kitchen confidence to cook up coq au vin like Julia Child. While I chose to splurge on a pricey Staub model, MyDomaine's editorial director swears by this insanely affordable $100 dutch oven by Milo.
The Recipe to Try: Coq Au Vin With Cheesy Cauliflower Grits
A Cast-Iron Skillet
The Kitchen Essential: A cast-iron skillet. While I certainly didn't need to ditch my cheap non-stick cookware for a costly cast-iron skillet, I'm very glad I did. Although the pan is more expensive, harder to clean, and more time-consuming to maintain than its Teflon-laced counterpart, its versatility has more than made up for any potential shortcomings. I swear by it for making crispy-skinned chicken, roasting vegetables, and, of course, whipping up one-pan dinners.
The Recipe to Try: One-Skillet Greek Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken and Farro
A Salt Cellar
The Kitchen Essential: A salt cellar. I keep mine filled to the brim with Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, as recommended by Samin Nosrat, the New York Times bestselling author of Salt Fat Acid Heat and host of the Netflix series by the same name. I stock up on boxes of the stuff at Costco so I can season pasta water and brine chicken with reckless abandon. Take it from me, nothing will make you feel like a chef like using your fingers to sprinkle salt over literally anything.
The Recipe to Try: Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe and Chive Pesto
A Butter Keeper
The Kitchen Essential: A butter keeper. The French country-inspired version from Food52 (linked below) keeps butter soft and spreadable using a method that involves water to create an airtight seal so you can keep it out at room temperature. Seeing as I spread Trader Joe's Cultured Salted Butter (produced in Brittany, France) on everything from sandwiches and naan to radishes, this kitchen essential has taken up permanent residence on my dining table.
The Recipe to Try: Herbed Garlic Butter Naan
A Wooden Spoon
The Kitchen Essential: A wooden spoon. Despite the fact that it's harder to clean than any silicon equivalent, this utilitarian kitchen utensil is a must-have. Part spoon and part spatula, I swear by Williams Sonoma's blunt-end wood spoon (linked below) for stirring stews, mixing veggies mid-roast, and countless other kitchen tasks.
The Recipe to Try: Deep Green Lentil Stew With Spinach, Tahini, and Lemon
An Olive Oil Cruet
The Kitchen Essential: An olive oil cruet. Although significantly less flashy than any of the aforementioned kitchen essentials in this list, an olive oil cruet is the single best purchase I've made for my kitchen. Gone are the days of pouring uneven glugs of olive oil straight from a store-bought bottle onto sheet pans, skillets, and Dutch ovens.
The Recipe to Try: Sheet Pan Poblano Chicken Fajitas
A Kunz Spoon
The Kitchen Essential: A Kunz spoon. A staple in professional kitchens for basting, test-tasting, drizzling, and serving, this humble, stainless steel spoon has been hailed by chefs as the perfect cooking utensil. Its short handle, narrow nose, and wide head make it ideal for essentially any cooking task. Simply put, my ability to pretend to know what I'm doing while standing over my own stovetop has increased exponentially since adding this seemingly innocuous spoon to my kitchen arsenal.
The Recipe to Try: One-Skillet Lemon Butter Chicken and Orzo