As I’ve often mentioned, I do not like single-taskers in my kitchen. In order for a single-tasker to remain in my kitchen it must:
- do its job very well
- take up a minimum of space
- be inexpensive
Today, I’ve got two of them. One was a gift from this past holiday season, and one is an old stand-by that has proven itself time and again.
First, the “Clip & Drain” by Chef’s Planet. Now, to be honest, I will say that this is not something I would have picked up for myself but, being as it was a gift, I gave it a shot. It is essentially a strainer that clips on to the edge of the pot. I had immediate doubts. I was sure it would fall off. I was sure it would get pushed off by the weight of the water and/or food behind it. I was sure it wouldn’t work on small pots and/or big pots.
[Buzzer!] Thanks for playing! I was wrong on all counts. It has a strong spring in the clip and a cushioned silicone square on the “bite” that both enhances its grip and keeps it from slipping off the pot. I used this with a small pot and a larger one that had a spout (it did not fit on my 8 qt pot) and it stayed on fine. I used it to strain pasta and boiled potatoes, and it held back the tide just fine without budging an inch. And I also found that while it doesn’t save on washing up (either the strainer or a colander will need to be cleaned) it’s more convenient, as I can clip it right to the dish drainer for easy access. (The one I was given is black, so it doesn’t stand out as much as the pictured red one would.) And, at about a $10-12 price point, it’s a neat little tool.
But as I decided to write on the subject of neat little tools, I cannot forego mentioning my favorite single-tasker: my Bean Frencher. The one I have is from Norpro, but they’re sold under a couple different brands. It runs between $5-8, does one thing, does it very well, and has been in my kitchen for about 5 years.
If you don’t know, “Frenched” or “French-cut” beans are green beans that are cut lengthwise. This gives otherwise tough beans a more delicate texture and brings out more of the flavor. They also cook faster, and more evenly. Cutting them lengthwise, by hand, is tedious and maddening, especially if you like uniformity in your dish. Other “bean Frenchers” are little hand-cranked mills that will do a lot of beans pretty fast, but again, at the expense of evenness and uniformity. (They’re also a beast to keep clean.)
This little guy is perfect for the home. If you want, there’s a little blade at the top to snip the ends of the beans. Then you take a bean and feed it into the spring-loaded tube; the spring keeps the bean stable but opens up as the larger part of the bean enters the tube. Pushing the bean forward, it meets three little blades and, when enough of the bean is pushed past the blades, you grab it from the other side and pull the cut pieces all the way through. Voilà; frenched bean.
But the coolest part about this gadget (and the thing that makes it better than any mill version) is that it also has two blades on the side of the tube. These blades slice off the stringy seams of the bean and discard them! Yes, it’s slower than a mill, but if you’re going to French-cut your beans, do it right, non?