Here, I want to talk about the more common cuts you’ll make. Slice, chop, dice & mince. Julienne is a pretty common cut for specialty cooking (like stir fry for example) what it means is to make the cuts so the food looks like (or is the size of) match sticks (an item that was used before butane lighters).
In this, I’m going to combine things a little. I am going to talk about finish slicing. That is, what finishes off the product. Let’s say it’s your hamburger or your steak dinner. I feel it will give you a better understanding about slicing, & how it is used. This will be at the end.
Let’s start with chopping. Probably the most asked for method. It’s pretty much just cutting the product into smaller pieces. It’s a rough cut, & not very fancy. If you’ve ever had to chop 300 pounds of onions, for a recipe, you’ll (really) appreciate the chop cut.
Next up diced. Dicing is a smaller cut than chopped. It gives a bit more surface area to cook (& taste). It is once of the most popular in recipes (& for picky eaters). You pretty much just chop the product twice. I’ll sneak in finely diced, because you dice thrice (& I get to use the word thrice).
Now we have minced. Mincing is labor intense, as it is the smallest of the cuts. Mincing is for flavor. Often the minced product, is going to be sacrificed for flavor, because it is going to ‘dissolve’ in to what is being made.
As an example; minced onions, garlic & mushrooms will wake a sauce or soup up, because of the many surfaces of the minced product, when cooked, nearly vanishes into the soup or sauce. Mincing is also great for salsa & dips that you want as many pieces as you can, in each bite.
For meat, I chose some beef, as it shows up a little easier. Very rarely will you mince meat (my favorite pie). You may want to do this if you’re looking to accelerate the taste, hide the meat, or add more to each forkful (spoon for soups); where grinding is too much.
Take your meat, lay it as flat as you can, & slice it in strips. Once it is in strips, you then cut it into the size that you want. If you are going to mince the meat, this would be the time to start on it. Each slice (from the strip), will be tiny; then, turn that pile around & slice tiny again to mince.
This is a wonderful way to make chili pop, & make your minestrone robust. Mince your raw beef & mix it with your onions & garlic. This small, they will act as a marinade. You know chili is a meat dish, right? Beans just stretch it out.
A little in home cheat for you here. You need your knife the most absolute sharpest to be able to mince warm meat & not include the tip of a finger. A real neat way to cut meat is to partially freeze it. Freeze it enough so it’s kind of stiff. You can go all the way till just before rock solid, but your fingers will be quite cold.
This is also a great way to cut up any meat that kind of flops & folds & you’re in a hurry. Just freeze it about 5 hours before cutting. Depending on your freezer of course. Save flavor, vacuum seal first, thaw to room temp, cook at once ;}).
There are many recipes out there which call for a sliced ‘somethingerother’. Slicing can be thick or thin, coined or stripped, long or short, & the deli fave, shaved! Please save hand shaving for the most experienced.
Slicing for a finish (topping), isn’t difficult & probably the most used for everyone. In the pix, I show the common way everyone cuts/slices a mushroom. Nothing wrong with it, just boring!
I, like to slice my mushrooms round, so that they fit better on the burger, & look way cool as the topper on your steak (Yes, you would know that it was me, who cooked your steak).
This is also called ring cutting or even coin slicing (especially pertaining to say carrots; as coins). Sure, it takes a little longer, & a steady hand, but not that much really (ok, a little more thinking) to slice like this, but it looks neat.
You can cut off the tip of the stem, you can even remove the stem completely if you like. Just put the mushroom on it’s side & start slicing.
This also works great for nearly every veggie. Onions love to be ‘ring’ cut. They saute’ so well this way, & you can ‘deep fry’ them to make them crunchy.
You can use a slicer (those are fun), a mandolin (not the musical instrument), or your handy knife. The slicer is hardest to use (ie, slicing a mushroom on), but will get the thinnest slices. Use the spiked holder to hold several pieces (mushrooms) at a time.
The mandolin is an altogether interesting device. You take & slice a product over a razor sharp blade. I have seen many accidents with people going too fast & not wearing protection on these machines. You can use the holder (what a nice idea), & even a cutting glove (great invention).
Or, the preferred method, a knife. It doesn’t matter which knife you use, but certainly for slicing, you want it sharp & honed. Once you ‘get the hang’ of slicing you’ll be sandwich slicing your own tomatoes in no time, nice & thin.
That’s it, those are your top cuts. Adjust your cooking time, for the size of the cut. More prep, less cooking time :}).