Everyone that loves to cook, dreams of having the ultimate kitchen. And those who have the money build them. I used to work in construction, and I’ve worked on some homes with really nice kitchens.
Ask most home cooks what their dream kitchen would consist of and you’ll pretty much get the same answers. A big 6 or 8 burner gas stove, with double ovens. A big island, granite counter tops, lots of counter space, and lots of cabinet space, and maybe they’ll want a big fridge and freezer.
That’s all well and good. But they’re missing the point.
Any home cook that takes their cooking seriously should have one goal; make restaurant quality food at home. The home cook faces two main obstacles to making restaurant quality food at home (assuming they have the cooking chops to put out great food) time, and equipment.
Let’s leave the time issue aside, I want to talk about my dream equipment.
Obviously a great stove is important, but why stop there? There’s three things I want in my kitchen other than a big stove/oven, that would enable me to make much better, and closer to restaurant quality food at home. And there are a couple of other things that would put it over the top, but lets keep it realistic.
In no special order my dream kitchen would include:
Frying at home is a pain. It’s messy. It’s dangerous. And it’s nearly impossible to do right. A pot of hot oil on the stove is tough to keep at a steady temp. When you add food, the temperature drops precipitously and then it takes your stove time to get the temp back up. The little electric fryers you can get at the department store suck. They’re not nearly big enough and they have the same issue, when you drop food in, the temp drops, and they don’t heat back up fast enough.
A professional gas fired fryer has none of those issues, and without one, the home cook will never match what a restaurant can do with fried food. If you want to make great fried food at home, you absolutely need a fryer.
A salamander? Yes, a salamander. A salamander is a stand alone broiler. Most professional kitchens have them, and for browning and melting they are invaluable.
Professional salamanders can get as hot as 800 degrees, some hotter, and far hotter than the broiler in your home oven. Want an amazingly crispy crust on the top of your casserole dishes? Take it out of the oven, then top it and put it under the salamander for a minute or two.
A great french onion soup, with a thick layer of deliciously caramelized cheese on top? A salamander makes that easy.
Frankly I’d probably use it most for melting cheese on top of a burger, but man, what a beautiful job it can do. I make chick parm on occasion, and a salamander is the perfect tool for melting and browning mozz on top of a piece of freshly fried chicken breast. Yep, to make great chick parm, you need a fryer and a salamander!
I have to imagine there’s a million other uses for the thing too.
A flat top
The classic greasy spoon diner does 80% of it’s cooking on a flat top. You can get similar results at home with a cast iron skillet, but you’re limited by the size of the pans and the number of burners you have available.
There’s almost no limit to what you can cook on a flat top, I could go on, and on about the dishes one can make on a flat top. And of course to make a truly great burger, you really need a flat top.
If I had to choose just one of the three, I’d love to have a flat top at home. That would be awesome.
With a flat top, a fryer, a salamander, and a large stove with a double convection oven, a skilled cook has the equipment needed to duplicate most of the dishes a professional kitchen can. Those three tools alone, would elevate the cooking of home cooks. And these three items are not so far fetched that they couldn’t be installed in a large home kitchen.