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Improv Steamer

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2010

A devoted steamer basket is ideal, but not everyone wants to shell out the money for something they hardly ever use.

While a steamer basket comes in handy when cooking things like our Steamed Chinese Dumplings (Shu Mai), this specialized piece of equipment isn’t essential. Here’s how to jury-rig a steamer from two disposable aluminum pie plates.

1. Poke 15 holes in the bottom of a 9-inch disposable pie pan and place it upside down in a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to the Dutch oven to reach just below the inverted bottom of the pie pan.

2. Flatten a second 9-inch pie plate with a rolling pin and poke 20 holes in the surface. Place the flattened pan on the overturned pan in the Dutch oven and line with parchment. Poke 20 holes in the parchment and coat with cooking spray.

3. Evenly space a batch of dumplings on the flattened parchment-lined pan. Cover the Dutch oven and bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat, steaming as directed in the recipe.