Kitchen Basics: Dicing an Onion

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All the cooking in the Andrew household must have been done by the women. I say this because my husband’s kitchen skills are limited to breakfast: eggs and pancakes. My husband loves eating my cooking, but has said he would never attempt anything on his own because “I can’t even cut an onion right, and what the heck is dicing?”

In an effort to help anyone that never learned or those just looking for a new trick, I’m starting a series called Kitchen Basics. The idea is to create a go to guide for some of  the basic concepts that recipes refer to so nonchalantly. Many recipes call for diced onion so let’s start there.  Welcome to the first of many “Kitchen Basics” skills discussions.

Dicing (finely chopping) an onion can be difficult, messy and leave you with a bunch of different sized, funny shaped onion pieces.  But done properly and a little practice, you can have diced onions like the best chefs.

Step 1: Use a large chef’s knife to cut off the stem of the onion. Be sure to leave the roots intact! This is very important. If you fail to heed this advice, the onion will fall apart and a good dice is nearly impossible.

Step 2: Set the onion flat side down and cut it in half through the root.

Step 3: Use the knife to peel back the first layer or two of skin, take it back to the root and tear off.

Step 4: Using the tip of the knife, make a cut from the root to the cut end. For small pieces, make cuts ¼” apart and for larger pieces, make cuts ½” apart. Continue across the crown of the onion. Once complete, the onion should look like a bunch of bananas.

Step 5: Using the middle of the blade and a rocking motion, begin cutting from the flat end and go towards the root. The rings of the onion will be tight so separate before deciding if the pieces are the correct size. To make smaller, pile the onions and use a chopping motion to cut through the pile from left to right. Or right to left if you are right handed. To make larger, cut another onion!

Please let me know what you think of this, if anything is unclear or any topics you’d like included in Kitchen Basics.

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