Your most powerful cooking multitool is probably abandoned underneath your counter. Maybe you dust if off sometimes, maybe you don't. But the next time you prep dinner, take a moment to reconsider the food processor.
Mark Bittman did just that in the New York Times recently, and thank goodness. Because while I've processed some food in my day, I've never truly appreciated the versatility of a Cuisinart:
The food processor replaces the whisk; the pastry cutter; the standing mixer (for which there are still some uses, but only if you're a dedicated baker); the mandoline (which, to me, remains a fine alternative to the food processor for small quantities); the mortar and pestle, which, no matter how lovely, quaint and authentic, is perhaps the most labor-intensive, primitive and damnable set of tools in the kitchen; and, perhaps most importantly, the grater.
Food processor's aren't flashy; they do the yeoman's work in the kitchen. And while it may feel like cheating not to grate by hand, there's nothing wrong with embracing the fact that a 30-year old technology can do it better, faster and with less risk of knuckle-scraping.
And they've only continued to evolve. Today's food processors can knead dough, handle nesting bowls, include adjustable sliding discs and motors that just don't quit. They can make anything from mayonnaise to corn meal to home-ground chicken meatballs. They're more than just wedding registry fodder. They're counter top prep chefs that don't call in sick.
Better eating through technology doesn't always mean flourishes of molecular gastronomy. Sometimes it means giving a craftsman the sharpest tool. [NY Times, Photo credit: Andrew Scrivani]