Using a Kitchen Knife

using a kitchen knifeUsing a kitchen knife in the proper manner is important for several reasons. I highly recommend that you look into and learn the proper techniques, especially if you aspire to becoming a gourmet cook.

When preparing and cutting food, the first requirement is a super-sharp, high-quality knife. But this will do you little good if you don’t know how to use it.

I’ll give you three good reasons to acquire professional-level skills when using a kitchen knife:

  1. Safety: If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s all too easy to slice off the end of a finger.
  2. Expedience: The better you are with your knives, the less time you’ll spend chopping, dicing and performing all the other cuts required of a gourmet cook.
  3. Presentation: When it come to plating and garnishing your dishes, all the artistic skill in the world can’t cover up sloppy, ugly knife work.

There are many techniques for properly using a kitchen knife. Food items are reduced in size and shaped by slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing and other special cutting techniques. Here’s a quick look at the basics . . .

To slice is to cut an item into broad, thin pieces. 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.

using a kitchen knife - chiffonadeChiffonade – to finely slice or shred leafy vegetables or herbs, using a kitchen knife.

Wash and destem the leaves. Stack leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly. Using a kitchen knife, make fine slices across the leaves while holding the roll tightly.

using a kitchen knife - rondellesRondelles or Rounds – Disk-shaped slices.
Peel the item and make slices perpendicular to the item being cut.

using a kitchen knife - diagonal cutDiagonals – Peel the item and position the knife at an angle and slice it evenly.

using a kitchen knife - roll cutOblique-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. Using a kitchen knife, slice a pocket to the desired depth, or cut completely through.

To chop using a kitchen knife is to cut an item into small pieces where size and shape do not matter.

Coarse Chopping

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

using a kitchen knifeChopping Parsley and Similar Foods – Wash the parsley in water and drain. Grip the 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

using a kitchen knife - chopping garlicBreak the head of garlic into individual cloves. With the flat side 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 and, using a rocking motion, chop the garlic cloves.

Garlic paste can be made by first chopping the garlic, add kosher salt, 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 using a kitchen knife.

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.

using a kitchen knife - julienneJulienne – 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.

using a kitchen knife - fine julienneFine Julienne – sticks with dimensions of 1/16 inch x 1/16 inch x 2 inches.

using a kitchen knife - batonnetBatonnet – a stick shaped item with dimensions of 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch x 2 inches.

using a kitchen knife - brunoiseBrunoise – a cube-shaped item with dimensions fo 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch

using a kitchen knife - fine brunoiseFine Brunoise – 1/16 inch cube.