Now that we have learned about knives we are ready to practice our knife skills by learning how to chop, dice and mince. We started out with a cucumber because even though it has a tough exterior it has a soft interior. Bananas are too soft and they stick to the knife which is distracting and makes them touch the blade too much trying to get the stuck banana off.
- I started by giving my Little Chefs a cucumber only 4″ long.
- The first thing they do is cut lengthwise a thin slice off the cucumber to make a flat side. This will ensure the cucumber stays in place on the cutting board and doesn’t roll around.
- Place the flat side down and begin cutting the short end to make circles. This is known as a ROUND cut. Ours are a little (or a lot) flat on one side depending on how thick of a slice my Little Chefs cut off to make one side flat!
- Next we learned how to cut BIAS. This is similar to a ROUND, the only change is the angle of the knife to the food. Prepare another 4″ piece of cucumber as we just did. Cut a slice off one side lengthwise to create a flat side. Cut the cucumber on a sharp angle. The BIAS cut will increase the surface area of the cucumber which means the cucumber is more of an oval shape and larger then the ROUND. This cut looks fancier then a round.
- We are finished with the cucumbers, now you may take a break and eat your work!
Next we practiced chopping a potato. Potatoes are cheap which makes it a great vegetable to practice chopping. The key to chopping vegetables is the make each piece the same size. This way the vegetables will cook evenly (at the same rate.)
- I started by giving my Little Chefs a 4″ potato. Like the cucumber cut lengthwise a thin slice to create a flat side.
- With the flat side down, cut lengthwise straight down. You are creating a rectangle shape.
- Stack two ‘rectangles’ on top of each other. (If you can do more go for it!) Cut straight down lengthwise to make ‘sticks’.
- Cut the ‘sticks’ into 2″ lengths. You have just created a BATONNET cut. JULIENNE is the same cut only narrower.
- Stack your ‘sticks’ together in all the same direction and cut cross-wise to create cubes. This is called a DICE. Depending on the size of the of the cubes it is called a BRUNOISE (1/8″), SMALL DICE (1/4″), MEDIUM DICE (1/2″) or LARGE DICE (3/4″).
If you teach your Little Chefs how to cut and give them enough practice they as well as yourself will be more calm when creating a recipe. It is worth wasting a $2 bag of potatoes.
To learn about even more types of cuts read pages 14-15 in the Martha Stewart’s Cooking School Cookbook.
- Buy a cucumber and a bag of potatoes and practice these types of cuts. Follow the progression we did as outlined in the bullet points above. Practice until you are comfortable with rounds, bias, batonnet and dice.