Don't let the fancy names or the impressive chopping speed of master chefs intimidate you when it comes to learning basic knife skills. With a little practice, cutting techniques are rather simple and easy to perfect. Knowing how to properly cut fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit will make recipes and preparation easier, while taking your dishes to the next level in terms of aesthetics and texture. For mastering everything from mincing garlic to cutting a chiffonade, turn to these six step-by-step tutorials.
A chiffonade is an elegant cut of leafy vegetables into long, thin strips. The technique is incredibly simple, and the result is a really beautiful cut or garnish.
Stack three to four leaves of whatever vegetable you're using (I used basil here).
Roll the leaves up tightly, and hold them together at one end.
To see more steps (and photos for each), keep reading.
Don't be scared off by the fancy name of this cut; it's actually quite simple. If you followed along with our lesson on how to julienne vegetables, then you already know most of the steps to achieve this fine dice. A brunoise is classified as a tiny cube, measuring 1/8 of an inch on each side. Luckily for us, a julienne leaves us with sticks that are 1/8 inch by 1/8 inch by 2 1/2 to 3 inches. What happens next is easy as pie.
Get your julienned vegetables together.
Organize them together, a few at a time, evenly. Using your knuckles as a guide, cut 1/8-inch cubes from the sticks. Repeat this until you have the desired amount.
It's really that easy! Do you have any recipes you want to try that call for a brunoise?
- Pierce the skin of the squash in a few spots using the tip of a chef's knife. Place the squash in the microwave and cook on high for about two minutes. Let squash cool in microwave for a few minutes before returning it to the cutting board.
- Cut both ends of the squash off, so you are left with two flat surfaces on either side. When doing so, be sure to keep your left hand in a bear claw to hold the squash steady while you cut.
- Stand squash straight up on its heavier end. Forcefully insert the back half of the knife's blade into the top of the squash. Make sure the knife is stuck inside the squash. Hold the handle with one hand. Place the heel of your other hand on the top of the knife (where the metal spine meets the handle) with your fingers flexed straight and your thumb tucked into the palm of your hand.
- Rather than trying to use your weight to cut through the squash, lift and bang the squash down into the cutting board. With each bang, the knife should naturally slide down and cut the squash. Be sure to keep your fingers flexed to prevent them from slipping.
I'm not much of a picky eater, but I do confess to sometimes being a perfectionist. I like things a certain way. For example I like water before I go to bed every night in my favorite plastic pink glass, I like my iced teas in a special glass as well and I won't eat a homemade grilled cheese sandwich unless it is cut into four triangles. It's all psychological, I know that a grilled cheese doesn't taste different if it is cut into squares or triangles or not cut at all but I like it cut into triangles. I'll have to ask DearSugar if this is considered obsessive compulsive behavior... Also, I'm wondering if maybe I'm not alone, so reader, how do you cut your grilled cheese sandwiches?