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How to Dice & Slice
I had just finished slicing the carrots for tonight’s chicken stew and was reaching for the onions to dice them when I decided it was time to talk about the basics; cutting is about as basic it gets for cooking, only boiling water may be more basic.
There are machines that can take care of the slicing, dicing and julienne cutting for you but I feel it is still important to be able to do this yourself.
I have nothing against gadgets, in fact, I am quite fond of them; however, there is something about doing the work by hand with a good blade that brings the cook closer to the process.
Preparing food for our meals is an important part of the whole food adventure, from the shopping for and growing of the items that make up supper; to the washing up afterward (not my favourite part) it is all part of being sure you and your family eat healthy and that the meals are tasty.
I like my food fresh and buy local items as often as I can. All the items, except the sea salt which I prefer (tastes better) to regular table salt were from local producers.
There are two must have tools when cutting food; one is a sturdy cutting board, the other a good knife. Both must be kept clean and the knife must be sharp. A dull play can slip and you end up cutting more than the turnip. A dirty cutting board is an invitation to unfriendlies to move in and make you ill.
Basic slicing and dicing is straightforward. If I am slicing carrots, for example, I try to keep the slice close to the same thickness; but for stew and soup, especially in a slow cooker a bit of variance does not matter all that much, in a stir fry it does make a difference, a noticeable one as some slices may be as well cooked as others if they are different thicknesses.
The julienne technique is great for preparing food for dipping or for a quick deep fry. Evenness of the pieces is important here, as well for presentation purposes, if for no other reason, looks do matter. Presentation is important; people enjoy the meal more when it looks good when place before them.
Cutting is a job that you can do ahead of time when you have the free moments. The dices or slices can be placed in a sealed container and put in the refrigerator until you need them. This saves time, often a limited commodity, at supper and allows you to serve fresh and delicious meals.