How to hone your kitchen knife skills

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There’s a reason why chefs-in-training start with knife skills. Having a handle on how to use a knife safely and efficiently is one of the best ways to boost your confidence in the kitchen and to chop precious time off of meal prep. Start sharpening your skills with this overview to help you stay on the cutting edge in the kitchen (and to feel better about whatever you’re cooking). Where should you start? 

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Safety first

How to hone your kitchen knife skills

Start slow if you’re still figuring out your technique and always remember the “claw.” Curve your fingertips back behind your knuckles while gripping the item that you’re cutting, keeping them out of the path of your knife. Done right, your knuckles will actually guide your knife cuts while keeping your fingertips safe the whole time. Now that you’re in position, you can safely achieve any of the following techniques:

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Chop

How to hone your kitchen knife skills

The all-purpose workhorse cut. When a recipe indicates that you should chop an ingredient, it means that efficiency matters more than precision. This is especially true for long cooking recipes like soups, stews and braises. Any type of rough cut is okay as long as the pieces end up around the same size. If a recipe doesn’t say otherwise, half-inch pieces are fine.

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Dice

How to hone your kitchen knife skills

A more precise approach to preparing ingredients. When a recipe calls for a dice, the priority is to have uniformly sized and shaped pieces so they cook at the same rate and flavor the dish evenly. Much like chopping, you can dice ingredients in a range of sizes, usually indicated in the recipe. Veggies, with their many knobs and curves, can be tricky to wrangle into perfectly uniform cubes. Consider halving your produce or just slicing off one edge to create a flat, stable surface, allowing you to cut the rest of it quickly and safely.

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Mince

How to hone your kitchen knife skills

The finest of the cuts. When a recipe calls for you to mince an ingredient, it’s telling you to chop it really finely so that the ingredient can cook more quickly or diffuse its flavor. Finely chopping garlic actually makes the garlic flavor more intense, so when you’re thinking in terms of firepower, smaller can actually be bigger! When you’re cutting chili peppers, smaller pieces help spread the heat out throughout the dish and can help you avoid spicy surprises when you’re eating.

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Slice

How to hone your kitchen knife skills

Creating a plank out of the ingredient. This can be a good way to make ingredients like tomatoes or citrus look gorgeous on top of toast, or to infuse their amazingly intense aroma throughout a salad.

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Chiffonade

How to hone your kitchen knife skills

An unnecessarily fancy French term for cutting leafy greens and herbs into thin strips. This makes herbs like basil or mint the perfect size and shape for garnishing a salad, rice bowl or taco. An easy way to do this is by stacking them and then rolling the leaves like a cigar before thinly slicing them.

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Julienne

How to hone your kitchen knife skills

Long, thin strips reminiscent of matchsticks. These uniform cuts are helpful to achieve even cooking in dishes like stir-fry or fajitas.

This article originally appeared on ImperfectProduce.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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