Same goes for tossing things about in a skillet
Tossing things about in a skillet is easy and prevents you from scratching your skillets with other utensils, allows you to keep your hands away from the hot fire, and enables you to multi task.
If you ever want to buy a whole chicken and cut it up either before or after cooking it you'd better learn a knife skill beyond cutting an onion in one minute. Nobody says you have to churn out perfect tourne potatoes all day long but knife skills even to the home cook are certainly NOT bullshit
Okay. I vehemently disagree. In fact I think this article is probably bulls**t. I’m a chef-educator. Knife skills are hugely important. Once people learn basic, efficient ways to dice and slice they are faster and more confident. Knowing how to cut vegetables in consistent sizes isn’t just eye appealing, it also aids in cooking evenly and assists in contributing the right flavor. For instance take garlic: if you leave it whole or crush it you get milder flavor than minced. And if you don’t know how to fine mince the garlic your diners end up with chunks of it in their teeth. Yuck. Then there’s the size of dice: if you want flavor to mingle, make it small and even. If you want each veg to stand out (or be able to cook longer) use a large dice. I say a lazy cook is the only one who cares not for good knife skills.
I can't agree more! My funny "no knife skills" story is when I got to do a TEDx talk (about food) and decided it would be clever to actually chop a potato on the stage. This seemed simple enough and a way to show the audience this was an amazingly simple task and therefore didn't require the purchase of overly processed, packaged frozen, pre-chopped spuds, right? I practiced but that wasn't really necessary because I'd chopped a potato a million times. THEN, there I was, on stage - giving my well-rehearsed TED talk and .... you probably see where this is headed, right? ... Yep - sliced my thumb! I spent the remainder of the talk with my left hand at my side, applying pressure to the cut, trying to hide the blood. Thankfully it wasn't too bad ... but still ... THAT was the moment my poor knife skills had to have this result?? You can see all the fun (although few people know the cut happened) - google Carla Ramsdell TED talk. Thanks for being the champion in this critical space of encouraging people to cook and enjoy it!!
I also am in the no skills group. But I watched Jacque Pepin debone a chicken in no time on one of his shows and it was pretty impressive!
Had a chop o matic growing up - it was great and quick - but there's something to simply doing a lot of chopping, dicing, slicing, whatever the skill level or how long it takes, during meal prep. It's a lot like weeding a garden or shoot thinning and training grapevines - you can spray or wack or till, or you can squat or kneel and slowly move along pulling weeds or suckers. It can be therapeutic.
I love this. Also, I'm getting one of those OXO things. I have a wonderful food processor, but it's a complete waste of time for small jobs. Who wants to clean that? That little OXO deal will go in the top rack of my dishwasher. ;) Yay!
My mother in law sliced into her hand peeling a potato "peasant style". Everyone should understand how to hold a knife (sharp please!) and use it safely.
True. My knife skills have deteriorated along with my ability to stay upright for 8-14 hour shifts. That being said, it’s the equivalent of a retired surgeon not having the same abilities they once had.
My grandmothers and Aunts cooked like this. Chop haphazardly, season and brown everything very well. Home cooking is different. We cook because we love to cook.
Oh come on now, knife skills are a skill like everything else. Mastery is not the point. It makes you a better, more capable cook. I reject mediocrity in all things. Better thyself! Learn how to cut an onion for God's sake, it ain't hard when you master the basics! Our culture seems to be careening toward an idea of "it's too hard so let's just make it easier. People are feeling bad about themselves and it's not right"! Feel bad! A tiny bit of time and effort and you will feel better because you got better at it! Happy cooking my friends.
I really don't think knife skills are BS, and I say this as a home cook with no professional training and mediocre skills. As you mention, they increase efficiency. If there's a person out there who doesn't need this, well, congratulations on finding success in life that I don't yet have. And far more importantly, good knife skills increase safety. I think you do a disservice by not recognizing that. Dull knives, dangerous habits, are things that professionals can't tolerate because the greater risk of getting hurt simply due to the volume of work that they do. You have to learn how to be safer because unlike getting accustomed to frequent burns, scars and callouses won't save your fingers from steel. For home cooks, the volume of cutting is reduced, but the probability of getting hurt while cutting is vastly increased because of the dangerous habits that people have.
On this front, although it's somewhat geared toward restaurant work, I think Zingerman's Knife Safety course is a real asset for home or even some professional kitchens where some safe habits might be lacking: https://www.zingtrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Zingermans-Knife-Safety-Leaders-Guide.pdf
To Reinforce the message above that Good Cooking is relatively Simple, I just practiced that Message by shaping the corn kernels off a leftover ear of steamed corn, adding olive oil, 2 eggs and Momofuku Chili Crunch - MMMMmmmm good and sweet with a bit of heat.
Been enjoying Membership here and following the Stories...!! Wayfarer doug now Way Out West in New Mexico for quite a few years.Best & Bye for Now.
I want to fly to wherever you live to give you a hug after reading this, Mark. (For the record, I’m full immunized 😁) I spent 45 minutes this morning just prepping batter for a couple dozen muffins, for heavens sake - much of which was dicing rhubarb and walnuts, and squeezing the last bit of juice from a couple of oranges. All the while muttering to myself, “how the HELL did the Top Chef Canada contestants prep, cook, and plate a beautiful dish in UNDER 15 MINUTES?? And why can’t I chop this rhubarb faster?”
I remember the chopomatic ads. Maybe I will treat myself to an Oxo - have always felt dubious but if it works for you…
I've felt "handicapped" for years because I couldn't do the "guide the blade with your knuckles" thing - but then decided in my 60s that as long as I can figure out how to cut potatoes, onions, etc into relatively equal parts when needed, that's good enough. We need to learn how to handle a knife safely, keep it sharp, and it helps to learn efficient cuts for irregular shapes but we don't need "knife skills" beyond this. I LOVED my mom's Chop-O-Matic! It was brilliant - I think I'm going to get the Oxo version in her memory.
Good knife skills are like good keyboarding skills - you can get by without them but taking the time/effort to develop them will pay off every day.