Kitchen Tool School: the Marvelous Multifunctional Food Processor

There are actually two types of kitchen appliances: there are real kitchen heroes – those that make your cooking easier, faster and better – and there are toys. I love my toys, but I can do without them. But I want my heroes, and my food processor is a multi-functional superhero. Here’s everything you need to know to buy, use and clean yours.

How to buy a food processor

Honestly, a food processor isn’t the cheapest kitchen buy you’ll ever make, but a good food processor will give you years of happy cooking. However, if you are going to toss small change onto a food chopper, emulsifier, or kneader, it is best to chop it clean, emulsify completely, and stir quickly. Below are some factors to consider when choosing:

  • Grinding: As explained in the video above from America’s Test Kitchen , how well the food processor grinds depends on the ultra-responsive pulsation button (the blade should only move when the button is pressed and should stop the moment you remove your finger) and the small size. gaps between the blade, sides and bottom of the bowl (it is more difficult to hide food in small spaces). The shape of the bowl also plays a role here. Straight-sided bowls allow food to fall back towards the blades while food can get stuck on the sloped sides.
  • Slicing and Dicing: Aside from chopping, a good food processor should also be able to chop and chop cleanly, without bruising or chopping food, and with minimal waste. The most important factor here is the sharpness of the blade, as a dull blade will squeeze the juice out of the carrots, chop them up, and spread soft cheeses all over the bowl, wasting food and creating an annoying mess.
  • Blending and Emulsification: Blending is another area where the food processor needs to excel, and again the distance between the blade and the bottom of the bowl is key. If the blade is too high, the ingredients will stay underneath during the spin, not included forever. Again, a bowl with straight sides is prized over a bowl with a slope, as the sloped sides tend to splatter.
  • Cleaning : Finally, the food processor should be easy to clean because things that are difficult to clean are never used. Look for a combine with a sleek design, without many pesky nooks and crannies for food to hide in. If you’re fortunate enough to have a dishwasher, the obvious plus is choosing one that has a dishwasher-safe bowl and blades.

In terms of brands and models, America’s Test Kitchen recommends the Cuisinart Custom 14 Cup processor ( found for around $ 160 on Amazon ), which outperforms a host of other brands, including the commercial KitchenAid and Waring models. Cuisinart also favors Food Lab’s J. Kenji Lopez-Alt , although he uses the 11-cup model .

After you’ve purchased your new favorite appliance, it’s time to start preparing your food.

What to do with your processor

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the delicious treats you can make with a food processor, so take a deep breath and only have one delicious meal at a time. In addition to basic slicing and dicing, your processor can be used for the following:

Spreads and falls

Pesto (like the walnut pesto in the video above), hummus, and pimento cheese are all made very quickly and easily using a food processor. In fact, I’d say 90% of the action my Cuisinart sees is cheese-related. With the chopper attachment and blade, both hard and soft cheese can be easily chopped into spreads, balls (I recommend this Everything Bagel Cheese Ball by Bon Appetit) and even super melt slices .

Sauces, salsa and dressings

For super-smooth sauces and soups, I prefer my trusty immersion blender , but for coarse sauces like romesco , or marinades with lots of grated ginger or garlic, a food processor is my best appliance. The food processor is also your best salsa maker, saving you the painful work of chopping onions.

When it comes to emulsions, your food processor has a secret weapon: a tiny hole in the food pusher that allows you to slowly add ingredients for perfect emulsions. This flow control feature produces rich hollandaise sauce, smooth vinaigrette, and silky aioli .

All kinds of dough

My life changed forever when I learned how to make a pie crust in a food processor. No matter which recipe you use, there is no more efficient way to slice flour into fat. In addition to being an ideal pie dough, the processor can also be used to make pizza dough , rich French bread and sweet sweet rugelach .

Delicate minced meat

Grinding your own meat produces tastier, tender, and safer burgers, and you can use a food processor to make awesome burgers at home without a grinder. The video above explains the scientific basis of why ground beef with your hands so good, and this article from Cook’s Illustrated guide you through this process. Personally, I would not settle for beef. Homemade lamb burgers sound pretty amazing.

Crumbs and powders

Breadcrumbs may not be the most appealing thing you can make with a food processor, but trust me when I tell you that the crumbs you make are infinitely tastier than store bought ones. Just toss a few pieces of stale bread into a bowl and let it shake.

If you want a tastier crumb, you can also use your food processor to make a fancy roasted butter powder like the one shown in the video above, but you need a little maltodextrin for that.

Latkes and hashbrows

If you are chopping only one vegetable with a food processor, use potatoes. Homemade potato pancakes ( not fries; I’m tired of ordering pancakes and giving homemade fries) and latke are absolute beauty, and the food processor helps you get them into your mouth as quickly as possible.

Light truffles with oreo

I’m not ashamed to say that the first thing I did with my Cuisinart was the Oreo Cream Cheese Truffles . Sure, you don’t need a food processor to crush the cookies and mix them with the cream cheese, but using a food processor will ensure the Oreos turns into the finest dust and completely incorporates them into the cream cheese for the perfect creamy chocolate. bite.

How to clean your processor

No matter how easy it is to clean your food processor, it still needs to be cleaned. To make this task as easy as possible, immediately rinse the bowl and blade to prevent the food from sticking together. If you have a dishwasher, throw in dishwasher-safe items and let it do its thing, but if you are like me and a dishwasher yourself, fill the sink with hot, soapy water and let it soak a little. bit to get rid of residual debris. Then scrub everything down with a dish brush, trying to get into any small crevices, as no one wants old, hardened hummus to end up on kitchen utensils. Rinse and allow everything to dry completely before reassembling and storing. Once that’s done, it’s time to start picking out your next yummy project.


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