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As someone that spent most of my career in the hospitality industry in various positions from management to chef and even waiting tables and bartending over the tears. With that said, it should come as no surprise that when I mention that fact to fellow RVers, I’m often asked about cooking techniques, favorite foods and even what I would consider to be my essential tools for every RVer to have in their kitchens.
I’ve never minded talking about food and cooking with fellow campers and in many cases, it led to some fine meals and conversations. One of the most common questions I am often asked is what I would consider my most important tools that I have in my RV kitchen. In this article, I’ll share some of those essential tools that I use and why you may want to use them too.
Versatile cookware suitable for indoor and outdoor use
In my opinion, no RV kitchen is fully complete without some cast iron cooking equipment. Over the years, I have collected skillets is various sizes for use indoors and outdoors. They work great indoors on the stovetop and in your RV oven.
However, they are also great for use outdoors on grills and even an open flame. I have used my Dutch oven over a nice fire pit to make all sorts of soups, stews, pot roast and I have even baked fresh bread in mine which I highlighted in a previous article.
While I don’t often use a stainless-steel pan outdoors, they do work quite well on charcoal and gas grills, especially if I were using it to sauté vegetables in indirect heat. However. they should never be used directly on hot coals or direct flames as they will warp.
Another favorite stainless-steel cookware of mine is a good stockpot. I have one that I routinely use when I make larger batches of soup or if I want to make things like corned beef and cabbage for potluck dinner for a group of people on St. Patrick’s Day or other occasions where I’m sharing a large pot of spaghetti or corn on the cob with friends or family.
I have also used stock pots to can my own foods such as fresh tomatoes, salsas and even fruit like and apples for future use in desserts or sauces. So if you’re like me and enjoy visiting fruit stands and farmer’s markets and preserving some of your finds, consider a big stock pot.
One of my favorite tools I have been using over the years and is only suitable for outdoor use, is a portable gas burner. When used properly, they are perfect for large gatherings such as a seafood boil or even a holiday dinner such as Thanksgiving where many people use them (with the proper pot and basket) to deep fry their turkeys.
A good outdoor burner should be sturdy and well-built so as to hold some weight. For example, the model shown here is made of cast iron and capable of supporting 400 lbs. when in use and that’s equal to having a 50-gallon pot filled with liquid.
Although this model weighs 32 lbs., it can be easily dismantled and stored away when not in use. While the manufacturer supplies tools for assembly and disassembly, plan on using your own.
Cookware for the interior
Certain foods and dishes cook better on a nonstick surface. Fried eggs, dairy based sauces and pancakes are great examples, as is a great grilled cheese sandwich.
And hey, who doesn’t love a good crispy grilled cheese on a rainy day when you can’t cook outside?
While I wouldn’t necessarily consider a set of stackable stain-less steel mixing bowls as cookware, I have on occasion used them to act as a double boiler when I was preparing egg yolk-based sauces such as a Hollandaise for dishes like Eggs Benedict, roasted or grilled asparagus and other vegetables and in many cases, even over main dinner courses such as broiled beef steaks and chicken and even on seafood dishes like broiled salmon.
When used in the same capacity, Using the same method for chocolate ganache where the sauce cannot come into contact with a direct heat source.
Food preparation tools
If you’re like me, you don’t want to fumble through drawers looking for mismatched knives that may or may not be sharp. Knifes are another invaluable tool when you love to prepare food while you’re out on the road and you should have a good set with you when you travel.
This set from Master Maison would make a good addition to any RVer’s kitchen collection. Not only does it have a good quality Chef’s knife, but the inclusion of the two Japanese style Santoku knifes makes it a unique set of knives suitable for most anything someone at home in the kitchen would love to prepare.
Also, if you like fresh bread from a bakery or the kind you make from scratch, then you’ll like that the set comes with two serrated bread knives for easy slicing of all your home baked breads and rolls.
The set also includes a good paring knife which is always handy for peeling vegetables and fruits. It also includes eight steak knives which I find especially useful when you’re grilling with a large number of people because almost always, someone won’t have a knife to cut their food properly so it’s nice to have a few extra on hand.
One of my favorite tools for any RV’s kitchen is a good mandolin. The company that makes your mandolin plays a huge part in its quality so it’s best to choose a mandolin that has good reviews and comes with a set of blades for making various cuts.
The mandolin is a great tool for dressing up your food dishes with little to no extra work. However, a word of caution when using your mandolin…keep your fingers well clear of any blade you are using with it as they are extremely sharp and any carelessness on your part is likely to result in a serious cut that will require stiches.
Yes, I know you can buy pre-grated cheese at almost any grocery store, but I have found over time that your choices for those cheeses are limited to only four or five different varieties.
That’s why I always have a nice cheese grater in my rig. More than once I have stopped at a farmer’s market, roadside farm stand or even a specialty cheese shop where grated cheese was not available in the varieties they were selling.
When that was the case, it was always nice to have a grater handy to work with whatever exotic cheese I wanted to sprinkle in a dip, soup or in a good and unusual taco or burrito.
While I’m sure I haven’t covered everyone’s favorite kitchen tool in this article, I have covered most of mine. Of course, I left out a couple, like the Crock Pot I’ve been using for the last 10 yrs., and that I purchased at a yard sale for $5. I’ve made a lot of dinners in that slow cooker, and it’s been nice to spend a cold day out on the ski slopes or in a fishing boat then come home to an already prepared hot dinner ready to eat as soon as you arrive. For me, that’s an invaluable tool, for some others, not so much I suppose.
My point is this, just as you eat the food that pleases you, so should you prepare it. With that, you’ll find that having the tools that make your food look even better to you and others will give you a sense of pride that will somehow make your food taste better too.
Happy dining my fellow travelers. I hope to see you out on the road one of these days.