You won’t remember a single recipe from Cook’s Illustrated’s Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most important cooking book you’ll read this year. Think of this as the field guide to kitchen survival, with Cook’s famously straightforward black-and-white illustrations leading the way to every shortcut and tip you could ever need around pots and pans. From turning a Tabasco container into a toothpick dispenser to storing soup overnight in more manageable single servings, the advice is simple but meticulous (and, in some cases like with the steak elevator, below, just brilliant). Here, from the book are three of our favorite tips: A way to keep your steak perfectly moist as it rests off the grill, a better way to pit olives, and how to make fast fries with an apple slicer.
Really Fast Fries
By using an apple slicer, you can get spuds cut and ready for the fryer in no time.
1. Slice one end of the potato to create a stable base. Set the potato cut-side down on the cutting board.
2. Push the apple slicer down over the potato, sectioning it into steak fry-size wedges. Cut the center cylinder in half lengthwise before cooking.
Pitting Olives the Fun(nel) Way
The most common way to remove pits from olives without an olive pitter is to smash them on a cutting board. For a more elegant — and equally effective — alternative, place a funnel upside down on the counter, stand one end of the olive on the spout, and press down, allowing the pit to fall through the funnel.
Most recipes call for resting steaks after cooking to allow the internal juices to redistribute. Inevitably, some of these juices leak out, ruining the nice crust. Try using a bowl to elevate the meat up and out of its juices. Place a small bowl in the center of the plate, and prop the steak on top. Once the steak is done resting, pour the collected juices into a pan to make a sauce.