Knife Work--How Important is Uniformity to You?

Earlier today, I prepared some carrots for tonight. These tapered a bit, so after peeling, I wondered if it mattered to slice them equally thick, or whether to vary thicknesses to better equalize cooking time and the resulting firmness.

What do you do? Do irregularly-shaped ends and pieces go in the mix, or are they discarded or diverted? Does uniform dice, mince, brunoise matter to you, and what is your level of particularity that things be uniform?

I do the best I can. If one piece of, say, carrot ends up a very different size from the rest, I just eat it.

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Depends, am I working in fine dining?

Sometimes uniformity is pleasing for even cooking and a certain style of presentation. Sometimes randomness makes nice extra crispy bits, like with roasted veg.

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I wish I could say that I cared. If something wants a brunoise, I will do the best I can (if I care). Otherwise, it gets my roughly chopped whatever. BF absolutely doesn’t care (and will order delivery left to his own self).

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if its stir-try then yes its important

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I want pieces to cook at the same time but I am not a slave to conformity in size.

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I might measure each piece if possible. That much concerned about uniformity. For example even when I remove my shoes I want them to stay parallel, and in line with the doorsteps. I mean I don’t “make sure” that they are so, but I usually do. Symmetry is something I automatically look for.

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I’m cooking for me, myself, and I.

Almost all carrots taper, so the skinnier side gets sliced, the fatter side get quartered to get them close to the same size as the skinnier slices. Because a 1-1/2 or 2-inch wide slice of carrot is going to take WAY longer to cook properly than a 1/2 inch wide piece.

Onions? I chop them. if there’s a larger chop in there, I still cook it without re-chopping it.

I eyeball it. If something’s less cooked than other ingredients, I still eat it.

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Same here.
My goal is to get a hot meal on the table, as long as everything is cooked… mission accomplished.

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I suppose it depends on what your cooking. If it is a stew, braise, or soup, forget it as it will all get cooked, and the variety of textures is actually welcome.

If it is a sauté for a filling, sauce, or veggies for a side I tend to keep things even (same for a skewer or fry).

I definitely get this point as it applies to different textures among various ingredients in the dish. Not so much for different textureswithin the constituent ingredients. For instance, if you have celery stalk slices in one of those, don’t you want the same texture for all the celery? And how would you achieve that without some uniformity?

Well… I am not talking about one inch chunks of celery along with quarter inch chunks. For instance I do a course chop in the FP for onions and peppers for my chili. Often there are pieces 2 times the size of others, and it makes no difference… it’s all cooked down and delicious.

But if I am doing a sauté in butter or EVOO for a sauce, filling (or a side), cook time is way less and more critical, and I’ll use a knife to get things even. Also for a blanch or boil where I am looking for a specific texture.

Same for if I am doing a long braise of pork for carnitas… it can be any size as it will all cook down and render. But if I am doing satay or kabobs on skewers, it all needs to be the same size to get the same cook (in what is a relatively short period of time).

Me too! I thought that’s part of the prep!:joy:

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Gotta keep my mise tidy!

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100% agree!

When prepping veggies for soffrito etx, i do not worry about uniformity if the dish is ‘grandma’s cooking’. That way, you get layered flavors. Some bits almost burnt, some in the middle and some only softened. If i am doing a more complex dish, where i want to show off skills, then precision cutting is a must. The trims and odd bits go to veggie stock.

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Variety is the spice of life. But not TOO much.

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It really depends what you will be using the cut foods for. For some cooking procedures, having similar size is quite important. For others, less so.

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