So why did Rea pick these three items in particular? The 12-inch, high-walled stainless steel sauté pan, he said, is one of the most utilized pieces of equipment a home cook will use. He said, “It has incredible utility for frying, deep-frying, sautéing, making pasta…” and clarified that the pan’s size is perfect for cooking spaghetti, as it’s just the right size to allow the spaghetti to lie flat in the water, rather than sticking up at an angle, which results in uneven, stuck-together spaghetti (and the occasional fire hazard). The chef’s knife, he noted, should be comfortable and sharp. And since they’re likely more affordable than you think, there’s no reason not to have one.
As for the cutting board, Rea said, “Too often, we get those three-packs of cutting boards from Ikea that are 12 inches, eight inches, and six inches. The six-inch one isn’t big enough to chop a carrot. Something that can really quickly and easily overwhelm newcomers in the kitchen is having a crowded cutting board and one that’s slipping around all over the place. Get a big, heavy cutting board. Secure it in place with a damp, clean kitchen towel underneath it that keeps it from slipping around. And [it’s important to have] a big wide work surface so you don’t feel crowded or overwhelmed when you’re dealing with a whole bunch of new ingredients.”
“Basics with Babish” by Andrew Rea is out now wherever books are sold.