Libby Knows How to Cut an Onion (well)


First off, meet Libby Mattingsley. She grew up in the kitchen with a mom-pastry chef. Her skills are cultivated and her tastes exquisite – who thinks to add fresh black pepper to the apricot, lemon, ginger marmalade they’re making? (Libby) – so I came over to make some robust veggie chalupas with her one evening, and instead documented her teaching me some techniques I’ve wished to acquire…knife skills.

Knife skills, to me, means maximizing a food item’s use with efficient hand strokes. So we started with a basic, a staple ingredient called for in many a recipe: the onion and how to dice it, and specifically, into little cubes (our use was for pico de gallo and flavoring some refried beans).  Note: this technique is also transferable to a tomato (a few photos will show them), but those guys can be less compliant with dicing due to their squishy texture.

No 00. or No -1. should be about safety: curl in those fingers as you hold the onion (or whatever item) to avoid any knife-nicks


1. Cut off those spindle-top ends and peel the top layer of flaky/rubbery skin. No need to be delicate. Just make a slice down the side and rip it off.

2. Then, from the top, slice in skinny rows WITHOUT cutting all the way through. The onion needs to stay intact for the next step.

3. Look the onion in the face. You can see its ring and the vertical slices you’ve made down its body. Similar to the first step, slice in skinny rows while leaving the onion intact at the very base. Do this in horizontal cuts.

4. At this cut, the onion will fall off into perfect cubes. Slice again from the top-side, going width-wise, a 90 degree angle to the cut you made in step 2.

Beautiful!! You cut your onion. And if you want to make the pieces smaller, just have at it on your cutting board with the knife blade underhand. Happy cooking!


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