12 ESSENTIAL KITCHEN TOOLS FOR MEXICAN FOOD CHECKLIST
Having the right tools makes MEXICAN FOOD easier. For an efficient kitchen, try to purchase fewer, smaller, and more versatile tools. Call me old-fashioned, but simple is often best.
A basic 2-quart blender with simple settings is all you need. I prefer one
with a narrow-bottomed jar, which makes it more efficient for blending small amounts.
COMAL OR GRIDDLE:
A heavy cast-iron griddle, known as a comal in Mexico, is useful
when making these dishes, but if you have limited space, a large cast-iron skillet works
just as well for toasting ingredients and cooking and warming tortillas. Nonstick griddles are not suitable for high-heat cooking.
Buy wood or plastic cutting boards that are generously sized. Use
one for vegetables and a separate one for raw meat or chicken. Wash and sanitize
cutting boards immediately after using them.
A plastic or metal food mill (I like the Moulinex brand) sits over a bowl
and quickly cranks out velvety moles and salsas. It can also be used to make fluffy
mashed potatoes, creamy purees, and perfect sauces.
A processor with a 2-quart bowl and on, off, and pulse switches
is all you need.
A small digital timer with a large display is always useful. Mine,
which clips to my apron, helps me stay on track when I have many jobs going on at
You will spend a lot of time with your knives over a lifetime of cooking, so I
recommend that you buy at least one top-quality knife, preferably an 8- or 10-inch
French-style chef’s knife, and a good sharpening steel. Have your knives professionally
sharpened every 6 months and use the steel before each use. A couple of inexpensive
paring knives and a serrated knife are all you need to complete your set.
For high-heat cooking, such as dry roasting or browning, you can’t beat wellseasoned
cast-iron skillets. They never warp or break or lose their handles, and, if you
treat them right, they will last at least a couple of lifetimes. I buy mine for a few dollars
apiece at yard sales or swap meets and reseason them myself. If you buy new pans, buy
the heaviest ones you can find. Nonstick pans are not suitable for high heat cooking.
Inexpensives sieves are useful for rinsing, straining, and sifting. A 4-inch nylon
or metal fine-mesh sieve and an 8-inch metal coarse-mesh should be all you need.
The ideal slow cooker should have low, high, and warm settings and
a digital timer. A moderately priced cooker with these features works just as well as a
high-end one. If you plan to use the slow cooker a lot, buy a few in different sizes.
An inexpensive coffee grinder should be reserved for grinding spices
only. Wipe it out with a paper towel after each use.
Metal tools will scratch the earthenware insert of your slow cooker. Silicone
and wooden spatulas and spoons, on the other hand, won’t scratch your cooker and
don’t get too hot (ow!). Metal tongs are always handy for handling hot foods, turning
chiles or meat in a frying pan, or transferring chiles from the soaking liquid to the blender. I often use simple wooden chopsticks for handling food, and they can double as a rack in the bottom of an oval slow cooker.