Kitchen gadgets in vogue this holiday season

by April Lisante
Posted 11/3/21

As I write this, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this Thanksgiving holiday, many of us will be cooking for 20 or more, as opposed to last year, when we made a miniscule turkey for our immediate family – or no turkey at all.

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Kitchen gadgets in vogue this holiday season

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As I write this, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this Thanksgiving holiday, many of us will be cooking for 20 or more, as opposed to last year, when we made a miniscule turkey for our immediate family – or no turkey at all.

Turkeys are going to be bigger this year, the guest list a lot longer, and - throwing a monkey wrench in everything - grocery stores may be short on basic things like apples, canned pumpkin and cranberries, due to crop problems in the Midwest.

But while we’re all worrying about the food, what about prepping it? I’m getting intimidated about the thought of organizing a big dinner and preparing it and serving it after throwing together lame excuses for dinners all this time. I don’t think my Pyrex pans, rusty roasting pan and mini food processor are going to appreciate the ultra-workout, and ultimately, I don’t think anyone wants turkey fajitas.

So while I was starting my holiday shopping this week, I decided to look into what items are trending for chefs this year who are rolling out the red carpet for big family holiday dinners. And it seems I’m actually behind the curve, according to Melissa Fendelman over at Kitchen Kapers on the Hill, who is already seeing sales increases among the tools chefs will use for the holidays.

“It seems like families are definitely getting together again this holiday season, as opposed to last year,” Fendelman said.

What I found is that small electronics and corner-cutting items are raging right now, all items that can make the whole ordeal a lot easier. There are three categories where these gadgets and mechanics seem to be attracting buyers. Some cut out basic time-consuming steps, others prep things at a fraction of the time, and still others work to make the food look professional. Here are some of the most helpful, and yes, there’s still time to order them.

Cutting Out A Few Steps

Immersion Blender- The immersion blender is the gadget of the month. These handy, handheld tools can puree soup, make sauces, and can even go right in the pot to do the work while the food is on the stove. Cuisinart immersion blenders are selling like hotcakes over at Kitchen Kapers. $59.95.

Automatic Stirrer - I can’t believe this one exists, but the Automatic Pan Stirrer with Timer will help you when you have a sauce that requires constant stirring, freeing you up to do other tasks. It looks like a futuristic whisk and goes into the sauce while you set a timer, then it automatically stirs for you. $25. www.uncommongoods.com.

Instant Marinator - There’s always the possibility turkey won’t be the only meat on the menu, so one way to cut some time is to invest in an inexpensive instant meat marinator. A vacuum pump cuts marinating time to a fraction of the typical bagging it overnight in the fridge method. A small one can work well for a few people, like the Tomorrow’s Kitchen model for about $30 on Amazon. Larger models like the STX International work in fifteen minutes and are available at Hammacher Schlemmer. $130 at Hammacher.com.

Prepping Meals Faster

Air Fryer - Air fryers have been big throughout the pandemic, but they’re especially hot right now. They don’t use as much oil, and they convect the food instead of frying it, so it’s healthier and cooks up a lot faster. Breville brand air fryers are the ones locals are opting for. $399.95, Kitchen Kapers.

Dutch Oven - Dutch ovens are another must-have this holiday season. They go in the oven or on the stove and can make soups, stews and roasts. Le Creuset, Calphalon and others make several versions, but enamel 8-quarts are perhaps the most versatile. The Le Creusets are “flying off the shelves” at a Kitchen Kapers sale right now for around $300.

Baster and Thermometer - Basting the bird and taking the temperature is always my biggest stress. The JY Cookment stainless steel baster comes with a meat injector as well. $10.99 Amazon.com. Meat thermometers are pretty high-tech right now, and can sync up to your phone. A good Bluetooth thermometer runs about $90 at Williams Sonoma in King of Prussia.

Making Food Look Professional

Roasting Pan - If you are a little rusty with getting a turkey perfectly basted and browned, a new roasting pan might boost your confidence. It will need to be larger this year, since turkeys are going to be averaging 20 pounds in the stores, instead of last year’s paltry 12 to 14 pounds.  “Roasting pans sales are higher this year,” Fendelman said. “We lost on that last year.” Investing in a 13-by-16 stainless steel number will be $129.95, but when your turkey looks like a Hallmark commercial, you can thank yourself.

Portable Smoker - If you refuse to turn on the oven this year but still want a turkey done deliciously, consider a compact smoker. Some are also Bluetooth-ready and can cook a turkey perfectly with little to no legwork. Most are portable and either propane or electric and run between $120 and $200. lowes.com

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