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Knife Skills for Gourmet Cooking

Items are shaped by slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing and other special cutting techniques.

Slicing
To slice is to cut an item into broad, thin pieces. Slicing is use to create three specialty cuts: chiffonade, rondelle and diagonal. Slicing skills are also used to produce oblique or roll cuts and lozenges.

Chiffonade – to finely slice or shred leafy vegetables or herbs.
Wash and destem the leaves. Stack leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly. Make fine slices across the leaves while holding the roll tightly.

Rondelles or Rounds – Disk-shaped slices
Peel the item and make slices perpendicular to the item being cut.

Diagonals – Peel the item and position the knife at an angle and slice it evenly.

Oblique-cut or Roll-cut – Small pieces with two angle-cut sides.
Peel the item. Hold the knife at a 45 degree angle and make the first cut. Roll the item a half turn, keeping the knife at the same angle, and make another cut.

Lozenges – Diamond-shaped pieces, usually of firm vegetables.
Slice the item into long slices. Cut the slices into strips. Cut the strips at an angle to produce diamond shapes.

Horizontal slicing or Butterfly – To slice boneless meat, poultry or fish nearly in half lengthwise so that it spreads open like a book.
With hand opened, hold the item to be cut in the center of your palm. Slice a pocket to the desired depth, or cut completely through.

Chopping
To chop is to cut an item into small pieces where size and shape does not matter.

Coarse Chopping
This procedure is identical to slicing but without concern for size and shape.

Chopping Parsley and Similar Foods
Wash the parsley in water and drain. Grip the chef knife in one hand and hold the knife’s tip with your palm with the other hand. Use a rocking motion up and down while moving the knife back and forth over the parsley.

Chopping Garlic
Break the head of garlic into individual cloves. With the flat edge of the knife crush the cloves. This will help you to remove the peel from the garlic flesh easily. With a flat hand, hold the knife’s tip. Using a rocking motion chop the garlic cloves.Garlic paste can be made by first chopping the garlic and then turning the knife and dragging the knife along the garlic.

Cutting Sticks and Dicing
To dice is to cut an item into cubes.
Before an item can be diced, it must be cut into sticks such as juliennes and batonnets. These sticks are then reduced through dicing into the classic cuts known as brunoise, small dice, medium dice, large dice and paysanne.

Julienne – a stick shaped item with dimensions of 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch x 2 inches. When used with potatoes, this cut is sometimes referred to as an allumette.

Fine Julienne – sticks with dimensions of 1/16 inch x 1/16 inch x 2 inches.

Batonnet – a stick shaped item with dimensions of 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch x 2 inches.

Brunoise – a cube-shaped item with dimensions fo 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch

Fine Brunoise – 1/16 inch cube.

Small Dice – A cube-shaped item with dimensions fo 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch.

Medium Dice – A cube-shaped item with dimensions of 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch.

Large Dice – A cube-shaped item with dimensions of 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch.

Paysanne – A flat, square, round or triangular item with dimensions of 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch x 1/8 inch.

Dicing an Onion
Using a paring knife, remove the stem end. Trim the root end but leave it nearly intact. This helps to prevent the onion from falling apart while dicing. Peel away the outer skin.
Cut the onion in half through the stem and root. Place the cut side down on the cutting board.
Cut parallel slices vertically through the onion from the root toward the stem end without cutting completely through the root end.
Make a single horizontal cut on a small onion or two horizontal cuts on a large onion through the width of the onion. Do not cut through the root end.
Turn the onion and cut slices perpendicular to the other slices to produce diced onion.

Mincing
To mince is to cut into very small pieces where shape does not matter.

Mincing Shallots
Peel and dice the shallots, following the procedure for peeling and dicing an onion. With a flat hand, hold the knife’s tip. Use a rocking motion and mince the shallots with the heel of the knife.

Tourner
Tourner is to cut into football-shaped pieces with seven equal sides and blunt ends.
Cut the item into 2 inch pieces. Each piece should have flat ends.
Holding the item between the thumb and forefinger, use a tourne knife or a paring knife to cut seven curved sides ont on the item, creating a flat-ended, football-shaped product.

Parisiennes
Parisienne – spheres of fruits or vegetables cut with a small melon ball cutter.
Cut each scoop with a twisting motion.
Make the cuts close together to minimize trim loss.

Using A Mandoline
A mandoline is a cutting tool. It can cut very thin slices or large quantities of julienned vegetables. This tool cuts very quickly, easily, and very accurately. It can also produce a ridged slice or gaufrette.

Gaufrette – a thin lattice or waffle-textured slice of vegetable cut on a mandoline.
To use, position the legs and set the blade to cut the desired thickness.
Slide the guard into place.
To slice, slide the item against the blade.
To cut gaufrette, select the rigid blade and set to desired thickness. Make the first slice, turn the item 60 to 90 degrees and make a second slice. Turn the item back to the original position and make another slice, and so on.

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