There are many ways to cut veggies but most of the time you never hear about how specialized cuts can be created. If you want to upgrade your kitchen skills, this is where you can learn some awesome slicing and dicing tricks that will impress your family and friends.
Knives for Chopping Vegetables
So you spent all that money on a great knife block set and perhaps you might use half of these knives when you prepare meals in the kitchen. It might sound disappointing to say that there are only two knives you’ll need for slicing and chopping veggies. This includes the chef knife and the paring knife. Yet for most of the cuts, you’ll get to try for yourself, a chef knife is a go-to knife that will give you the best results.
Any chef knife is perfectly designed for making cuts for veggies of all sorts. Its blade is developed to be slightly rounded along the knife’s edge to give smooth slicing using your wrist to slice up and down without much effort. And though you’ll go through the motion of using it for chopping or slicing, how you hold it will make a big difference in the cut you’re making.
You’re not quite ready for hand-to-hand combat with your veggies anytime soon but the paring knife is a rather important tool for shaping and creating cuts you never thought were possible. As if most people reach for a potato peeler, the paring knife is still the perfect knife that can be used for peeling and executing controlled slices on select veggies. We’ll also inform you how to hold this knife when making these distinctive cuts likewise.
Making Diced Cubes
The most basic cut you’ll probably know but this is an exact science when it comes to French culinary training. They all start with a carrot that or veggie that is round, so you’ll need to take off these rounded edges before you start. The carrot itself also needs to be sectioned into 2 to 3 inch sectioned strips. This makes it easier for your chef knifes to make these cuts easier to handle.
The sections of the carrot also determine which can be turned into the size cube you want to make. Larger and fatter ends of carrots will obviously be better for larger cubes. Don’t worry it all makes sense as you make your slices, so we’ll give you plenty of info ahead.
Fine Brunoise – 1/16th inch cubes
After squaring off your item, you then make 1/16 inch slices off each section until you have little thin planks that resemble wooden shakes. Take a stack of these and slice lengthwise using an identical cut that’s also 1/16th so you’ll now have fine Julienne strips. These are then turned sideways so you can continue slicing these even further so you now have perfectly shaped 1/16th inch cubes. Hold your knife by the handle right behind the tang of your knife.
Brunoise – 1/8th inch cubes
This cube is larger in size so begin by holding the knife with your first knuckle and thumb pinching against the tang of the blade. Make little planks that are no thicker than 1/8th inch and repeat this so you now have regular Julienne strips. Once again you repeat this so you create little cubes that all measure 1/8th inch.
Small dice (Macedoine) – 1/4 inch cubes
For this, you’ll be making what are called Batonnet which is French for little stick. Your slices need to be 1/4 inch planks that are then reduced to batonnet sticks and then get further cut down into the Macedoine sized cubes which measure 1/4 inch all around.
Medium dice (Paramentier) – inch cubes
You’ll want to use the bigger end of your carrot of veggies for this since these thicker sections will need inch planks that are separated into what is simply called large sticks. These get reduced further until you finally have medium-sized dice measuring inch square that is called Paramentier.
Large dice (Caré) – inch cubes
Finally, you’ll have the largest of the bunch that becomes inch slabs that now transform into extra-large sticks. Once you slice them into Caré cubes or essentially large dice, you’ve completed this section of making cubes and dice.
These are more decorative than most veggie cuts you’ll make but are always fun for kids. You’ll need a lemon zester grater that has a built-in half-circle scoring tool on it. This will score a continuous groove down the side of your vegetable. These are scored around your veggie all the way along the sides so these lines are uniform and now have raised edges. Then you simply slice these lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices or more.
These can be boiled, fried, and baked after that and look a bit like the gears of a clock. Kids will be intrigued by these so they’ll seem more interesting to eat if they don’t like veggies so much.
Roll cuts are also decorative and can apply to many types of veggies on your plate. After removing the skin of your vegetable, you want to have lengths that will ideally make this cutwork. Carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, and long and round veggies work best. You need to hold your knife the same as slicing your cubes but angle the knife so you have a 45-degree angle as you cut. When you make your first cut, rotate the vegetable one-half turn.
This makes the slices appear just like wedges that can then be boiled, fried, baked, and sautéed. If you have large potatoes you can slice your potato in half and create long stick sections with edges that are rounded of with a peeler. These will make excellent wedge fries that look awesome.
The last of your basic cuts is in fact the easiest to create. Taking any veggie that’s been sliced into logs or is rounded already. The angle of your knife for this is also bent to a 45-degree angle. Now you slice decorative strips that can be 1/4-inch thick if you like. These are then cooked as usual in the oven, in stir fry dishes, and even pan-fried. You can further reduce these slices down to create shortened Julienne strips for salads or stir fry dishes.
The Tourner Cut
This is where you finally get to use your paring knife but beware that this requires patience if you want to make something very special. You want to hold your veggie item between your thumb and forefinger. Paring knives are held with three fingers gripping the handle but your index finger resting against the upper back of the blade. This gives you more control over slow slicing as if you were carving wood.
Since veggies can be slippery at times, you need to have dry hands and hold your item steady and you make 7 curved slices along the front and back of your veggie. If you begin with a square-shaped veggie stick, you may need to adjust how many cuts it takes. The final Tourner cut will resemble a little football when it’s finished. Don’t make fast cuts while doing this as you can accidentally cut your finger.
These little shapes are very appealing but will take you time to make many of these for all the servings you prepare. Some give yourself time to prepare this beforehand.