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Why Knife Skills Are Important

September 29, 2014

Why Knife Skills Are Important

Anyone who wants to cook — whether professionally or at home — needs to know how to use a knife. And that doesn’t just mean knowing how to cut various vegetables into various shapes, though that’s certainly part of it. It also means knowing how to hold a knife and, equally importantly, how to hold the item you’re cutting in a way that prevents you from cutting yourself. Learning how to hold and use a knife correctly will not only help you work more safely, but will also enable you to work faster, making you much more efficient in the kitchen.

If safety and speed weren’t enough incentive, good knife skills also allow you to cut your food uniformly. Uniformity is important for two reasons. First, pieces of an individual food that are the same size and shape cook at the same rate. Imagine, for example, that you have a craving for home fries: diced potatoes sautéed in hot fat with a little onion and garlic. If you cut your potatoes into a ragtag collection of shapes and sizes, the small pieces will cook much more quickly than the large ones, so when the small pieces are done, the large pieces will be just this side of raw. Worse, by the time the larger pieces are done, the small ones will be beyond overcooked. But if you cut your potatoes into beautiful, nearly perfect 1⁄2-inch (12 mm) dice, not only will they cook together perfectly, but they’ll look fantastic, too.

And that’s the second reason to cut everything into uniform sizes and shapes: presentation. There’s a definite elegance to perfectly cut, perfectly sized vegetables that simply cannot be attained with rough cuts. Restaurant patrons may not understand the principles of even cooking that lie behind uniform cuts, but their subconscious registers that if you aim for perfection with something as seemingly insignificant as your vegetable cuts, then you must take the same care with every aspect of preparation. When you’re cooking at home, presentation may matter less, but making food look beautiful will certainly wow your guests and make your family feel loved and special.

 

To learn more about knife skills, pick up a copy of ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS Complete Book of Knife Skills by Jeffrey Elliot and James P DeWan.

 

 

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