The holiday season brings with it plenty of opportunity for home cooking, whether you’re hosting a large feast or bringing a single dish when visiting. From appetizers to main courses to desserts, the food processor is the cornerstone of a functioning kitchen.
There are plenty of ways a food processor can make preparing for Thanksgiving and subsequent holidays easier, from straightforward uses to more innovative hacks. Having a plan in place and knowing what’s possible is key to success.
Stake out a practical spot on the countertop before you begin cooking. The food processor should be on a stable, dry surface. Keep it close to a cutting board, but not so close to the sink that it might get splashed. Clear enough room on either side so you can have utensils at the ready.
Be sure the blade is locked in firmly and the bowl is secure on the base. You’ll likely hear a noise to indicate everything is placed together correctly. Most processors won’t turn on if components are not in alignment, which can create headaches if you already started to fill it.
Consider every meal you’ll be making, and use your food processor strategically. To make cleaning easier, chop dry ingredients, such as nuts, first before moving to watery vegetables. Wait on meats, cheeses or dough that will require a thorough wash before reuse.
Pulse allows you to chop items evenly without turning them into a mash. This is useful for soups and salads when you want to quickly dice up carrots, onions, celery and peppers. However, a lengthy hold of the pulse button will eventually turn your ingredients into a mash or puree. Food processors may feature both a "chop" and a "puree" button to separate these functions and avoid mistakes.
Firm ingredients first
When preparing a meal with several varied ingredients, insert the firmest items first and slowly add the softer ones over time. The food processor attacks everything with the same power and speed, which means it’s best to break down the tougher ingredients before moving on to the easier ones.
Whatever the time crunch, it’s important not to rush preparation. Creating thick spreads, such as nut butters, as well as some cheeses takes time in the processor. And don't process hot ingredients immediately. Let them cool down to avoid risk of injury from ingredients splashing out.
While your food processor may have a large capacity, it doesn’t mean you should fill it to the top. Avoid filling the bowl more than halfway to start, especially with liquid, which can splash back. Too many solid ingredients can mean that those near the top struggle to find their way to the blade. Start with small amounts, and as they become chopped or pureed, incrementally add more.
Employ the chute
Most food processors have a handy chute that can be used to add ingredients while the motor is still running. This saves valuable time instead of turning the machine off, removing the lid and placing food within. Just note the size of the chute; clogging it means having to stop everything.
Wash by hand
Avoid running blades through the dishwasher, as any encounter with other items within could dull them. Wash by hand, exercising caution around the sharp edges, then dry immediately before returning to the bowl.
Consider the possibilities
The right ingredients and accessories can lead to a lot of exciting creations. You can slice potatoes to make pancakes, grind nuts to make butter and pulverize oats into flour. Burgers, sauces, dips, spreads, dough and cheese can be made in the processor, as can the heart of most soups, salads and stews.
Best food processors
This powerful, versatile processor comes with a variety of accessories to pulse, chop, shred and knead. Four presets and a recipe booklet add convenience.
Among the largest food processors made, this family-friendly appliance is easy to set up, use and store. It includes four attachments for slicing, shredding, chopping and pureeing.
This budget-friendly processor offers plenty of value with its midrange capacity, large chute and versatile accessories.
This versatile midsize processor is easy to use and clean, letting you pulse, chop, shred and knead.
A pricey high-end model, this large food processor is powerful and quiet. It features 11 speed setting and 10 attachments.
For those on a budget, this inexpensive processor provides worthy capacity and simple use for casual home cooking.
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