There’s a lot to be said for good knife skills in cooking. The shape into which you cut your meat or produce determines how much of its surface area will be exposed to heat. The size of your cut determines the cook time and helps manage an evenly cooked dish. Finally, the finesse of your cut demonstrates your kitchen chops (sorry for the pun).
Fancy cutting and chopping may not be part of our everyday cooking – but it’s still useful to know how to properly cut and slice some of the classics. Check out this video demonstrating five common cuts and shapes: large dice, small dice, brunoise, battonet and julienne.
You will notice that for each shape, the vegetable is squared-off first. Squaring-off your vegetable results in sharp edges, enhancing the visual appearance. This level of refinement is especially used in dishes where the vegetables remain very visible (consommés, etc). If you’re squaring-off your vegetables, be sure to reserve the scraps for another use, such as soups, stews, or chili. (Squaring off is less important for rustic dishes like these.) And as always, the sharper your knife, the better your slice.