Last week we outlined some of the major ways many cooks go wrong when cooking. Whether you skim the recipe or never bother to taste your food until the end, we hope we straightened your shit out and that you’ll be making different mistakes from now on. BUT for you to have COMPLETE KITCHEN DOMINATION, we’ve got a few more lessons to go.
The next most important thing we can stress to y’all is sharpening your knife skills. Whether you have a cheap knife or some expensive counter piece, these tips are for you. Knife skills aren’t just for plating aesthetics or so you can whip up dinner at record speeds. The way you chop your ingredients changes the whole experience of the dish. So sharpen your blades because today we’re working in the Chop Shop.
We really meant that thing about sharpening your blades. Even an expensive knife is worthless if the blade is dull. Depending on how often you cook, you wanna take your knives to get sharpened AT LEAST once a year. Sure, you can try that shit yourself, but you’ll never do as good of a job as a pro. Take your knives to a local kitchen supply shop, farmer’s market, or just look up knife sharpening spots online. We’ve never paid more than $1 per inch and even with an 8 inch chef’s knife that’s still only $8. It’s absolutely worth it. Plus, you’re much more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife. You’ll have to exert more effort to cut and that’s how fingertips become fingernubs.
Now that your knives are sharp, let’s get chopping. When you’re chopping up veggies the first thing you wanna do is get them into a manageable size, cutting them into manageable chunks that you can cut with more precision than a big ass piece. Next, you want to make sure that you have a flat surface to rest on the cutting board while you do much of the chopping. Not even the best chefs can cut a vegetable well while it’s rolling all over the cutting board. Maybe you have to cut or peel off a little bit of the outside of the veggie to achieve this but that’s a small price to pay to keep your pinkie attached to your hand so fucking do it. Now your veggie is in a manageable size and is stable on your cutting board, so it’s time to employ the technique we use to prep our veggies 80% of the time: THE GRID.
Basically, to achieve a similar-sized piece you’ll want to cut a grid into the veggie starting with the cuts that are parallel to the cutting board without cutting all the way through. This gives you somewhere to place your hand. With your average-sized onion we usually do 2-3 cuts.
Next you’ll cut slices perpendicular to the cutting board across the top of the veggie. The more slices you do here the smaller your final product will be.
Lastly, you are going to chop in perpendicular cuts across the face of the veggie so you can finally get to your final chop size.
Still seem a little too scary? To make the grid a little easier, use a smaller piece with 2 flat sides to make your initial cuts easier until you get more confidence in your knife skills.
The grid technique works basically ANY VEGETABLE that you want to chop: potatoes, carrots, zucchini, you name it. All you need to do is adjust the number of slices on the grid to match the final size you want, more slices, smaller pieces.
After a while this shit will become second nature and you won’t even think about it as you start tearing through your prep work with a new-found confidence. Plus having a consistent shape to your veggies allows everything to cook evenly and let’s you control the end mouthfeel of your dish. Yeah, mouthfeel is a gross word but it's important. Imagine a bowl of fresh guacamole with a nice small dice of white or red onion in it. You get a lil crunch and a lil bit of the raw onion that mellows with the fat from the avocado in each bite. FUCKIN 🤌🤌🤌
Now imagine that same guacamole with the same amount of onion but chopped into big ass chunks instead. You’re chewing that too long and your taste buds are taking huge hits of onion. Plus that nice blend of the fat and the crunch from the little bits of onion is gone. It’s all just chunks in your mouth. Hard pass. We’ll talk more about mouthfeel in a future newsletter but keep that shit in mind while you’re chop.
While we had the camera set up, we wanted to show y’all a few more ways to chop an onion since they’re the base of damn near every cuisine. If you’re looking for big rings of onions to throw on a burger or bake up into some onion rings, it's best to cut slices from the bottom of the onion up like little longitude lines. Simple shit.
You can also cut up strips of onions this way but we find that cut is a little too wide no matter how you slice. For a thinner cut to use in some pastas and salads, we prefer to slice little latitude lines after chopping the onion up into quarters then slicing across the top. These always come out nice and thin and disappear well into whatever you’re whipping up.
By now you hafta be feeling confident in the ways of the blade. Now go forth and chop up everything you need to throw together a dinner with laser uniformity.
As for the tears that come with slicing up a shitton of onions? We can’t help you there. We’ve have never found a tip or trick that actually works for us. Once we had to cut up a bunch of onions live on a Canadian morning show and let’s just say the mascara gave up long before my pride did.
Thanks again for joining us here in The Broiler Room. Tomorrow paid supporters are getting a ✨BRAND SPANKIN NEW RECIPE✨ that’s perfect for weekend brunch AND uses an ingredient we already asked y’all to pick up in last week’s recipe. If you’re been thinking of joining, now would be a pretty good time.
See y’all next week with more hot food takes, cooking tips and piping hot memes.
Michelle and Matt