5 Knife Cuts for Beginners to Practice
The journey to becoming a professional (or dedicated) chef begins with preparing ingredients properly before they are placed in the cooking tool. Most recipes require specific knife cuts for ingredients so that they can be properly cooked.
A dedicated chef has to be conversant with many types of knife cuts. For beginner chefs, however, basic cutting techniques will suffice.
You can achieve perfect cuts by selecting the perfect knife for the cut you want. For example, juicy foods like tomatoes require being cut with a knife that has a thin and sharp blade. Using the wrong tool for a cut forces you to use a lot of effort, and you end up creating messes that are hard to clean up.
In this article, we look at the 5 basic knife cuts that every beginner chef should practice. We also point out the knife we consider to be best suited for each cut. Read on to find out more about the 5 basic knife cuts that beginner cooks should practice.
The baton cut is used to cut big and hard ingredients into large cuboid strips that measure about 12 millimeters in thickness. Commonly used for potato chips or carrots, this cut can be achieved using a long chef’s knife. You should begin by cleaning the food you want to cut and peel off the outer covering.
Next cut off both ends into a straight line so that you can get even pieces.
Follow that by holding the potato or carrot firmly with one hand while the other hand holds the knife’s handle firmly. The knife’s tip should be touching the cutting board with the blade raised at an angle. Bring the item you are cutting below the blade and press down on it firmly.
Repeat the above step with keen attention on the size of strips you cut. Try to make them as uniform as possible.
The knife you use should be long enough to cover the entire length of the piece you are cutting. If you have an extra-long carrot that exceeds the blade’s length, you might consider cutting it into half before you begin making baton cuts.
You should also try to ensure that you make one complete cut and avoid making pauses midway. This helps you to get even and consistent baton strips.
In most cases, the pieces you get from the baton cut are not cooked right away since they are too big. Rather, the baton slices provide a base for making other cuts.
The batonnet cut is almost similar to the baton cut with the only difference being the strip size. According to the healthy kitchen’s website, batonnet strips have dimensions of about 6mm x 6mm x 5–6 cm.
Choosing the correct knife helps you realize flawless batonnet strips with minimal effort. A smaller chef’s knife works great and allows you to make precise cuts, but you can also cut the strips with the large chef’s knife.
The process towards achieving batonnet strips begins with cutting off the tips of the item you want to prepare. Take note that the food item should be hard and not juicy. For instance, you can cut potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and beetroots into batonnet strips but not tomatoes.
Hold the food piece you want to strip with one hand and the knife in the other hand. Begin cutting in a straight line from one end making sure that you make one continuous cut up to the end. Pausing in between leads to inconsistent strips.
Repeat this process and ensure that you maintain a constant size for each strip. The first piece you cut and the remainder piece you are left with at the end in most instances are not perfect. You can discard them or use them for other purposes like juicing depending on the food item.
The Julienne cut is also known as the matchstick cut due to the thin rectangular strips that are achieved using this cut. The resulting strips are very similar to the shape of matchsticks. According to Stella Culinary, you can choose from two kinds of julienne sizes.
- Regular julienne – the strips have dimensions of 1/8 inches by 1/8 inches by 2.5 inches
- Fine julienne – the strips have dimensions of 1/16 inches by 1/16 inches by 2 inches
Julienne strips can be achieved using a simple halving method. This requires you to first cut larger rectangular strips using the baton or batonnet cuts. Then take the strips and begin cutting them into halves. Next, cut the halves into quarters and then the quarters into eighths for regular julienne strips. You can further half the eighths into sixteenths to get fine julienne strips.
Cutting the small julienne strips requires that you use a smaller knife because it enables you to make precise cuts. The 6 inch chef’s knife is a great tool that gives you enough control when you want to make small julienne cuts.
The brunoise cut is used to achieve small cubes of food ingredients. You can achieve perfectly brunoised food items by transitioning through the above cuts. Begin with baton or batonnet cuts, then julienne them into the size you want.
You have 2 brunoise options that you can choose from according to Healthy Kitchen 101. These are:
- Brunoise – cubes measuring about 1/8 inches
- Fine brunoise- cubes measuring about 1/16 inches
You can cut food items that you have gotten to regular julienne sizes down to brunoise cubes easily. All you have to do is cut the rectangular strips into cubes. For fine brunoise cubes, cut the strips into fine julienne size before cutting them into cubes.
You will need a lightweight knife that gives you maximum control to accomplish the small brunoise cut.
The chiffonade cut is used to cut leafy vegetables like kale or spinach into long strips or ribbons. The length of the ribbons will be determined by the size of the leaves you have. You can vary the width between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch depending on how you like your veggies.
To get perfect ribbons that have similar size, arrange the leaves you want to cut on top of each other. It is better to have larger leaves at the bottom and smaller leaves at the top. Next, roll the leaves into a cylindrical shape and hold them firmly on a cutting board in one hand.
Then hold the knife in the other hand with the tip placed on the cutting board surface and the blade raised at an angle. Next, you want to press down on the veggies making sure that you separate the cut leaves from the uncut ones after every knife movement.
This cut requires a sharp knife preferably with a wide blade. The 7 inch vegetable cleaver is a perfect tool when you want to achieve chiffonade cuts on vegetables.
Knife Cuts Are Just The Beginning
Preparing food is fun. For most cooks, the satisfaction that comes with seeing people enjoy a perfectly cooked meal is enough motivation for them to get into the kitchen the following day. The basic knife cuts outlined in the above sections are just but the beginning. There are more cuts and food preparing techniques that you can use to awe your guests.
Beginner cooks can practice the above types of knife cuts to make the food they prepare look more appealing. Perfecting the above basic cutting techniques also helps you build a base for moving to more complex cuts in the future.