Any great chef will tell you that one of the most important (if not the most important) kitchen skills to master is your knife skills. What’s the difference between chopping and chiffonade, and peeling and batonnet? These are the eight kitchen knife skills every budding Jean-Georges should master.
1. Chopping: The most basic of the knife skills, put your middle, ring and pinky fingers around the handle, and grip the blade with your index finger and thumb. To execute the wrist-fulcrum method keep the heel of the knife—the part of the blade closest to the handle—near the cutting board and pointing the tip of the knife upward. To do the tip-fulcrum method keep the tip on the far side of the piece of food you’re cutting.
2. Dicing: Use this technique to cut fruits and vegetables into even cubes. To begin, first cut your food into several square-sided pieces of equal length. After placing these pieces in a row, cut everything into as many cubes as possible.
3. Chiffonade: Looking to cut herbs or greens? You are going to want to chiffonade. Pull off the stems and place the leaves on top of each other. Then stack everything from small to large. Use your knife in a rocking motion.
4. Peeling: Use a paring knife or a serrated peeler if you are looking to peel fruits and vegetables. Cradle the food you are peeling in one hand and insert the tip of the knife directly under the skin with the other. Start at the top and use your knife to peel away the skin in a circular direction. As you turn the food in your hand, use your thumb to give the knife some leverage.
5. Batonnet: Start by chopping off each end of what you are cutting, and then make a rectangle with the knife by squaring off all four sides. Slice the rectangle into quarter-inch pieces, stack them and cut again, this time in quarter-inch strips.
6. Mincing: Similar to chopping, to mince, cut the food lengthwise into strips, then again after turning what you are cutting by 90 degrees. Place one hand on the top of the knife to hold it steady, and be sure to keep the tip of the blade anchored against the cutting board as you chop. Continue this motion by moving the knife back and forth swiftly through the pile.
7. Tournée: Use this method to cut potatoes, carrots, and squash. Start by cutting off the edges and trimming the length to approximately 2 inches, and then use a knife to sculpt food into several small oval-shaped pieces.
8. Julienning: The most difficult of the techniques, cut food into rectangular 1/8-inch planks. Then stack the planks on top of each other and slice lengthwise into 1/8-inch strips. This could take some practice, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time.
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