Since knives are the most important tools in the kitchen, it’s worth your time to master using them correctly. Better knife skills not only help you keep your fingers safe, they make meal prep faster and easier—and with prettier results.
Littles would also benefit from learning these skills. More and more of them want to learn to cook and are spending time in the kitchen. Make them your sous-chef and have them do all the prep (and help with clean up). Dinner will practically make itself!
Cut bottom off onion, then halve lengthwise (tip to root). Peel onion and lay down on a cutting board. Using the tip of your chef’s knife, cut into the onion horizontally, working from the bottom up at 1/4-inch intervals (for a fine dice). Use your opposite hand to hold the onion together, but keep your fingers pulled back into a claw hold to prevent cuts.
Then, keeping the root intact, make vertical cuts, 1/4 inch apart, working from root to tip. Finally, rotate the onion and use a rocking motion to cut across the onion, again at 1/4-inch intervals.
Practice this technique by making Baked Ricotta with Asparagus.
Use a chef’s knife to cut flat, rectangular pieces from your vegetable; this will give you a flat, stable shape to work with. Cut these to the length you’ll need, then, using the claw hold, slice into julienne strips.
Practice this technique by making Slow-Roasted Salmon & Spring Vegetables.
Use the side of your chef’s knife and the heel of your free hand to press down firmly (but carefully!) on the unpeeled garlic clove; this will let you remove the peel easily. Keeping the tip of the knife on the cutting board, roughly chop peeled garlic with the part of the blade closest to your hand. Sprinkle the garlic with a pinch of salt to help it break down, making mincing easier. Let sit 30 seconds, then continue to chop until fine.
Practice this technique by making Pecorino-Crusted Chicken with Spring Mushroom Salad.
Stack about 10 soft herb leaves on top of one another and roll into a tube. Using the claw hold, finely slice across the width of the roll, using the tip of the chef’s knife.
Practice this technique by making Lamb Chops with Zucchini & Pea Sauté.