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The home chef's must-have gear: a visual guide

You'll be able to create almost every dish imaginable with this equipment

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Don’t forget the cutting board. End-grain wood is the best, but expensive. Thick plastic boards are also excellent; they’re soft on knives and easy to clean. A great size is 12 by 18 inches. Put a damp paper towel or cloth underneath to prevent it from sliding.

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A properly seasoned cast-iron pan browns meat and vegetables beautifully, lasts forever and, unlike many 'non-stick' sauté pans, won’t typically stick to food. Grab an older, lighter cast-iron pan at a garage sale or antique shop: They’re cheap and easy to find, and often they’re perfectly seasoned.

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A 16-quart stainless-steel stock pot is go-to equipment, perfect for boiling spaghetti, blanching green vegetables or cooking lobster. You can even make stock in it. Don’t bother buying anything fancy: You’re using it to boil water and thin liquids for the most part; water doesn’t generally burn.

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Few kitchen tools can open up worlds of possibility more readily than a stand mixer. With a good mixer, you can make batter and dough, beat eggs and whipping cream easily and even whip homemade marshmallows. Kitchen Aid stand mixers are still the gold standard.

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Some cooks prefer wooden spoons with square bottoms, some prefer round; either way, they’re cheap and 100-per-cent indispensable. Get them 10 inches or longer, and get a few.

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If your fingers haven’t built up heat-resistant kitchen calluses, you’re going to need to turn those chicken thighsi some other way. Get yourself a pair of long (10 inches is perfect), locking, stainless-steel tongs. You want locking because they’ll stay closed in your drawer that way.

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A balloon whisk is useful for combining dry ingredients in baking recipes (don't bother sifting flour and salt together; a quick whisking is good enough), making lump-free sauces and gravy and, yes, even beating eggs.

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There is no better flipper than a fish flipper. They’re flexible enough to slide under delicate eggs, fluffy pancakes and buttery sole fillets, and just wide enough so that your food doesn’t droop over the sides. But the best part is the sharpened front edge: If anything’s sticking, a fish spatula will free it.

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If peeling potatoes sounds to you like drudgery, that’s because you don’t have a Swiss Y-peeler. 'Life-changing' might be overstating it, but not by much.

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You need a serrated bread knife. The best one we’ve tried is made by Forschner and has an offset handle so that you don’t scrape your knuckles on the cutting board.

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A high-quality eight-inch chef’s knife should be your kitchen workhorse. They’re made for slicing, dicing, chopping, mincing and carving. The best ones are made from a single piece of high-carbon steel that extends from the knife’s tip to the end of the handle.

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You’ll reach for a Microplane rasp grater far more often than you would think: It zests citrus, grates nutmeg, minces ginger, turns amaretti cookies into a spectacular garnish for creamy pastas and shaves hard cheeses such as Parmesan into fluffy, ultralight wisps.

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Get a paring knife: short, simple, great for hulling and slicing berries, peeling, well, pears, and other finicky cutting tasks. Restaurant supply stores sell razor-sharp ones for peanuts; just replace it once it’s dull, after about a year.

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