At the top of my "how did I ever live without this?" list is one of those small, unassuming kitchen tools that makes you think Oh man, I love this thing every time you use it.
It's an instant-read thermometer, but seriously the best one out there: the Thermapen by Thermoworks.
When you need the internal temperature of something you're cooking -- how's the chicken doing? Is the steak done? Is the chocolate up to temperature? -- speed and accuracy is everything. The Mk4 Thermapen ($79 right now, usually $99!) gives you a temperature reading within 2 seconds. That means you can get that roast chicken back in the oven pronto before it cools down any more!
Other things I love about the Thermapen:
- There's no fidgeting with an "on" button and waiting for it to be ready; just open the probe and stick it in!
- Hold it in any orientation and it will alter the display so the temp always reads right-side-up.
- It has an automatic backlight so you can take temps in the dark (late-night BBQ, anyone?).
- It's always on when you're using it, goes into sleep mode when you set it down, and automatically turns back on when you pick it up.
- The battery (AAA) lasts forever. I don't even think I've changed mine yet.
- Did I mention it tells you the temperature almost instantly?
I keep ours in a drawer right next to the stove, since I am constantly reaching for it. I love how easy it is it to use, and that it takes the guesswork out of cooking meat.