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It’s the most important meal of the year so what better excuse to brush up on your kitchen skills than preparing Christmas Dinner? If you want your guests to be wowed with a perfect plate worthy of being shared on Facebook (piled high as it might be!) then mastering your chopping skills is a great place to start. It can also help you save valuable time in the kitchen which is handy when there are so many dishes to prepare! Read on for top tips on creating perfect carrot batons and speedy onion dicing.
If you fancy upping your chopping game this Christmas but aren’t feeling up to perfecting your knife handling skills just yet, you can always start by using a multi-functional kitchen tool to speed up the chopping process and guarantee great results. The Total Control Hand Blender Workcentre features both coarse and fine grating and slicing disks as well as a chopping blade, making light work of preparing all kinds of vegetables, whether you’re slicing potatoes for a creamy dauphinoise or grating fruit for a festive fruit cake. You can find plenty of recipe ideas for the Total Control Hand Blender Workcentre on the Morphy Cook & Create App, available on iTunes or Google Play.
Before you get started preparing the veggies for your Christmas feast, it’s important to make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job. Always use a high density plastic or wooden chopping board; never chop on glass as it can blunt your knife. Choosing the right knife is also key. For most vegetables a sharp 5” or 6” chef’s knife is ideal, as the curved front edge allows you to rock the knife up and down smoothly when chopping.
2. The rolling chop
The rolling chop takes time to perfect, but once mastered is a great technique for chopping consistently and quickly. To start, grasp the chef’s knife like you were shaking hands with it, using your strongest hand. Your index finger should be placed near the top and side of the knife to keep it steady, rather than towards the bottom of the handle. Keep the tip of the knife down on the board and use chopping motions that go forward and down at the same time instead of straight up and down. The idea is to roll the knife through the food, keeping the tip touching the board.
3. The claw
With your other hand, form a claw over the vegetable you’re chopping, rather than holding it with your fingers out. The knuckle at the end of your middle finger should be closest to the knife’s blade and will form a barrier between the knife and your fingertips meaning you’re much less likely to cut yourself. Although it might feel safer to hold your hand away from the knife, this gives you much less control over the vegetables, and by maintaining contact between your knuckle and the knife, you’ll be able to feel where it is without even looking.
4. Getting on with onions
Knowing how to dice an onion is a great thing to have mastered, as so many recipes call for using finely diced onion as a base ingredient. To begin, peel off the top layers of skin and chop off the top of the onion. Leave the root intact, then cut the onion in half lengthways. Lie the onion flat with the cut side down, then make evenly spaced cuts long the length of the onion without cutting all the way to the root. Next make one or two horizontal cuts through the body of the onion depending on how finely you need it dicing. Finally, cut straight down through the onion across your original slices, using the claw and the rolling chop technique. As you get towards the bottom, simply flip it on its side and keep chopping until you reach the root.
5. Perfect batons
The key to getting perfectly even, square-cut batons is to get rid of any round edges before cutting up all your individual batons. Start by cutting off the top and bottom of the carrot, then cut lengthways down one of the sides in a straight line. Turn the carrot onto the next side, then trim along the next length. Repeat until all the edges are trimmed and you’re left with an evenly cut rectangle of carrot. Cut this carrot block in half, then into as many pieces as you like, depending on how thick you want the batons to be.