A good sharp knife is used to shape a food product and reduce its size. Having the same size and shape ensures even cooking. Items are shaped by slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing and other special cutting techniques.
Slicing is used to create three specialty cuts: chiffonade, rondelle, and diagonal. Slicing skills are also used to produce oblique or roll cuts and lozenges.
A chiffonade is to finely slice or shred leafy vegetables or herbs. You first wash and destem the leaves, such as spinach. Stack several leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly like a cigar.Then make fine slices across the leaves while holding the leaf roll tightly.
Rondelles are disk-shaped slices of round vegetables or fruits, such as carrots. Diagonals are oval-shaped slices of cylindrical vegetables or fruits. The cut is similar to cut rondelles except that the knife is held at an angle to the item being cut.
Oblique cuts are small pieces with two angle-cut sides. You 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. The result should be a wedge-shaped piece with two angled sides.
Lozenges, not cough drops, are diamond-shaped cuts prepared from firm vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and potatoes. Slice the item into long slices however thick you want it. Then cut the slices into strips. Cut the strips at an angle to produce diamond shapes. Sounds easy, doesn’t it.
Horizontal slicing is used to cut a pocket into meats, poultry, or fish. This is usually referred to as butterflying.
Chopping is cutting an item into small pieces and size and shape are not important. This is much easier than the other ways of cutting.Mincing is the same except the pieces are smaller.
Dicing is cutting an item into a cube. Chefs in restaurants would want each side to be equal. Before an item is diced, it is cut into sticks, such as juliennes and bâtonnets. The sticks are 2 inches long, with the sides either 1/8”for juliennes or ¼” for bâtonnets. Brunoise are cubes of 1/16”, small dice are ¼”, medium dice are ½”, and large dice are ¾”. Paysanne is a flat, square, round or triangular item ½” x ½” x 1/16”.
Tourner is a cutting technique that results in a football-shaped finished product with 7 equal sides and flat ends. This is a difficult cutting technique, that takes a lot of patience.
Parisiennes are spheres of fruits or vegetables cut with a small melon ball cutter.
Now that you know all the different types of cuts, my advice would be to find machines that slice and dice, such as a mandoline. They are much quicker and usually safer.
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