By Jim Hill
A traditional British roast dinner is not one of the trickier meals that world cuisine has to offer. Even we still find that having all the help that modern kitchen technology can provide to hand is essential. Because we're men, you see! No good at multitasking.
With these top ten cooking gadgets at your disposal, you'll have everything from succulent rib of beef to this year's festive meals nailed. And obviously, you can also use all this gear for meals that DON'T involve eating your own bodyweight in meat, accompanied by roasted everything. Mmmm, meat. Ooh, we feel hungry now.
Hotpoint Ultimate Collection MWH33343B Microwave
This is no mere microwave for reheating the remains of Christmas dinner - although it is good at that - but a powerful and intelligent combination oven capable of cooking everything from meat to, er, vegetables.
With a 1200W grill firing alongside the 1000W microwave you can achieve crisp brown results in drastically reduced cooking times.
The MWH33343B is part of Hotpoint's Ultimate Collection of small appliances, which are linked by their contemporary design and helpful time-saving technologies. The Dynamic Steam & Boil feature, for instance, monitors and adjusts humidity levels inside the oven enabling you to steam fish and a side order of vegetables at the same time. And the Dynamic Crisp setting uses Hotpoint's heat distribution system to evenly brown the top and bottom of a pie at the same time.
At 33 litres, the internal capacity is big enough for even larger joints, with a few stuffing balls to spare, while the smart silver or black finish and downward folding door add a professional look to your kitchen.
£300 | Hotpoint
Zwilling Pro Carving Knife Set
Carving the Christmas turkey is a tradition that calls for a little skill, or failing that, a spot of showmanship and it certainly helps if your knives are sharp. The German brand Zwilling JA Henkels is famous for its rapier chef's swords and they don't get much sharper than this two-piece carving set made from ice-hardened steel.
The process of FRIODUR ice-hardening, means the metal has been temperature treated to improve corrosion resistance, material elasticity and strength. The Zwilling Pro knife is forged from one piece of high-carbon stainless steel, which achieves a Rockwell hardness of 57. That's as hard as it gets without becoming brittle and prone to chipping, so you still have an element of flexibility, but you don't need to worry about corrosion, or losing that lethal cutting edge over time.
The angle of the cutting edge is checked by laser to ensure each blade reaches its maximum sharpness. The Zwilling Pro two-piece carving set includes an intimidating meat fork made from similarly styled steel.
£149 | Zwilling
AEG ProCombi Plus Smart Oven
In the connected kitchen, smart appliances big and small are getting online and operable via our mobile devices, but none quite match this camera-toting cooker for forward-thinking convenience. In addition to an Ethernet cable, for accessing firmware updates from the web, the AEG ProCombi Plus has an inbuilt camera so you can watch your dinner cook on your phone from the next room, or, for the hell of it, the next country. This cooker can send updates, alerts and selfies to the MyAEG app, and of course, let you share your food with your friends – electronically that is.
What is in all other respects, a regular built-in steam oven, uses its integrated CookView camera to send a live feed to any iOS/Android device. This removes a lot of the guesswork involved in cooking larger lumps of red meat, or poultry, but the MyAEG app also lets you adjust the heat remotely. And while you wait you can browse professional recipes, or just scoff at the shared efforts of other connected chefs via the Social Feed section. The ProCombi Plus Smart Oven goes on sale in the UK, April 2016. Diet until then.
Stirring sauces is one of the most menial chores of the kitchen and if you don't have your own commis chef to shout at, then this three-legged device is what you need. Just load it with four AA batteries, press the button and watch it vibrate in such a way that the legs agitate every part of the saucepan, preventing the gravy from congealing into jelly and the bread sauce into concrete.
If the brand name sounds a little Scandinavian, it's not. Üutensil is a British design outfit responsible for other items of innovative and indispensable kitchen kit, like the Skaler.
£16.99 | üutensil
Joseph Joseph ThermoBaste
Basting meat and checking that chicken or turkey is cooking correctly can be a messy and inaccurate business without this neat three-piece set from Joseph Joseph. At one end is a meat thermometer on a spike, which has the optimum cooking temperatures for each type of meat clearly marked. Just pull it out and plunge the spike into the flesh to take a reading.
The main body of this kitchen gadget is the baster, which acts as a large pipette for sucking up and evenly delivering oil to the parts of the bird that need it. The really clever bit though, is the bottlebrush on the end of the thermometer skewer that allows you to clean the inside each time you finish using it.
£18 | Joseph Joseph
Tefal Ingenio Induction Cookware
Big dinners call all the pots and pans in the cupboard into play, but if you're using Ingenio Induction cookware, all thirteen pieces can stand in a single stack when you're done. The handles of the glass lids collapse flat and the handles are detachable.
But nesting isn't their only superpower. The handleless design means they can also be used as oven dishes, or when they have cooled down after the meal, you can pout on a plastic lid on top and store your leftovers in the fridge. They also sport Tefal's red Thermos-spot technology in the base, which glows to indicate when they have reached the target temperature.
Made from aluminium with a tough Titanium Pro non-stick coating they are dishwasher safe, largely scratch-resistant and compatible with all hobs, including, of course, induction.
Sage by Heston Blumenthal Risotto Plus
Formerly called the Multi Cooker, this multi-talented device can sauté, slow cook and steam a wide range of recipes, but we have to agree that risotto is its speciality. One of the most labour-intensive dishes, risotto usually involves 25 minutes of constant stirring to release the starch from your rice grains to get that creamy texture, but this clever hot pot achieves the same effect by using bubbles to agitate the rice grains.
Or, if you're making a curry, there's a setting that has the opposite effect on the accompanying rice by keeping the starch inside the grain for a perfectly fluffy finish. The large 3.7-litre capacity can take up to 20 cups of cooked rice, or a stew made from leftovers that will feed the whole family for a week.
£99 | Sage Appliances
Riedel Escargot Decanter
This wine decanter doesn't look like the usual upright affair and where's the customary cut crystal and glass stopper in the top? There's a reason this Austrian-made lead crystal wine decanter is shaped like a snail and it's not just 'art'. The loop in the tube encourages the wine to slosh about while you are filling and pouring and in doing so, double aerates the liquid, adding oxygen that's beneficial to the taste. The loop also makes a useful handle and by happy accident, it does also look rather artistic.
Hand-blown, or rather mouth-blown in Austria by the famous wine glass manufacturer, Riedel, each decanter is unique and comes in the brand's signature black and red presentation box.
£255 | Riedel
Microplane Spiral Cutter
Vegetables might enjoy a more prominent role on the Sunday menu if they just tried a bit harder to look a little more appealing. One easy way to liven up limp carrots and dull cucumbers is by shredding them into ribbons of glistening veg pasta or a sizzling stir-fry using this dual-sided spiraliser.
With two sections of different sizes, each lined with photo-etched American- made blades, you can experiment with different root vegetables by simply rotating them like you're sharpening a pencil. The shavings twist out and onto your plate in an artistic pile to be eaten raw, or cooked. It comes in black, green, or stainless steel if you want to pay £2 more and go to House Of Fraser.
£9.95 | John Lewis
Grohe Minta Touch Tap
Tap technology doesn't change very often and you wouldn't even notice it in this elegant faucet, unless you touched the chrome with the back of your hand. GROHE's EasyTouch technology means that sensors in the metal pipe open the valve without needing to pull the lever. The idea is that when your hands are caked in, er, cake mix, you won't smear it on the handle.
Naturally, the lever also turns the flow on and off in the usual way, so technophobes have nothing to fear from this electronic tap. In fact, there's no visible cue to its digital skills, at all which is perhaps why it won a red dot award for outstanding design. Meanwhile, those who are more concerned with cleanliness can rest assured that mucky marks and finger germs are not being transferred.
£525 | Grohe