Large diced potatoes
Paysanne flat cut
Batonnet cut potatoes
Coursely chopped vegetables
One of the first things they teach you in Culinary School is about the basic knife cuts. This way when a recipe calls for medium dice potatoes, juilenned carrots and chiffonade basil, you'll know what the heck they're referring to.
Knife cuts help both to maintain uniform cooking times as well as to influence the overall visual appeal of the finished product. Items can be cut by either cutting, chopping, dicing, mincing or by using specialty techniques.
See below for descriptions and to the left for sample pictures of each knife cut, in order from largest to smallest:
Cutting | Dicing | Chopping | Mincing | Other Cuts
3/4" x 3/4" x 3/4" cubes
1/2" x 1/2" x 1/2" cubes
1/2" x 1/2" x 1/8" flat square, circle or triangle depending on item cut
1/4" x 1/4" x 2" sticks
1/4" x 1/4" x 1/4" cubes
1/8" x 1/8" x 2" sticks
Also known as an Allumette (al-yoo-met) cut when used with potatoes.
1/8" x 1/8" x 2" cubes
1/16" x 1/16" x 2" slicks
1/16" x 1/16" x 1/16" cubes
You may find it easiest to first cut into the stick form and then into the cube form, since many of the dimensions interwine. How thick you initially cut the potato slabs depends on the cut you are making. Use the above mentioned knife cut dimensions to cut each type using the below mentioned method:
When you chop something, you cut it into small pieces where uniformity and shape is of no importance. Most home cooks use this type of knife cut - no need to measure out the pieces, just cut them down to size and toss them in the pot/ pan. Two ways of chopping are Course and Finely chopped.
Course Chopping refers to pieces of food that are diced but not uniform (various sizes) - see the example picture to the left of coursley chopped vegetables. Finely Chopping usually coincides with chopping parsley or other herbs. With this method, the items being finely chopped are place on the cutting board, and while holding the tip of the knife on the cutting board, you rock the curved blade of the knife up and down while moving it back and forth until everything is chopped.
Mincing refers to cutting an item into very small pieces, also known as "finely chopping". Most often, this method is used when referring to shallots, garlic, and other foods without a uniform shape.