Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Large dice, medium dice paysanne of russet

Allright, i'm back with a few potatoes.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it; from only two potatoes create eight large dice, twelve medium dice and twelve paysanne (if you scroll down to the bottom you can see what they look like).

To begin, you will need a peeler, a large knife, and two large russet potatoes.

Again, like with the carrot, I like to use the santoku chef's knife (on the right) because the blade is thinner at the top. This will be up to you. The downside of the santoku is that it is lighter in weight, and there is no bolser on the heel of the blade, so your middle finger might get a little sore of being pushed up against the heel of the blade.

Next, peel your potato. I like to peel it on a paper towel so the cleanup is really easy. I like to hold the potato as shown, and then up and down motions with the peeler while I rotate the potato.

Next, slice off one side of the potoato.

Then, put the potato on this cut side and cut another side creating a 90 degree angle where the two sides meet (not pictured).

Then, slice off a chuck of the potato, keeping perfectly parallel with the cut on the side. You want to cut at least 3/4 of an inch because that's how thick the large dice is.

Next, with the chunk you just cut off, cut off a spear that has perfect 90 degree angles in an elongated rectangle.

Next, trim off the ends that aren't square, and cut off a perfect cube with each side measuring 3/4".

If it's not perfect, because mine was not, trim it up so it is a perfect cube. (I like to have a little ruler with me to perfect it.)

You now have your template.

Take your template and line it up with some of the bigger pieces sliding it along the length so that your next cut is exactly the same as the template.

You will end up with another rectangular spear, so then put the template at the end, and cut off a cube that is exactly the same size as the template.

Keep doing this until you have eight.

Now, you need to create medium dice, so with the scraps you have left from the large dice, look around for anything that has a thickness of at least a half inch.

I found a large segment that was kind of pristine, and did the same thing as with the large dice; cut off a section that is at least a half inch thick.

I then trimmed this so it was an elongated rectangle with perfect 90 degree angles, and cut off a section that would be my template.

I then used the template on the spears, making sure they were exactly 1/2" on all sides.

Now paysanne. I created another spear with the medium dice template,

And cut off 1/8" thick sheets from this spear.

It is important that your paysanne are the same size as your medium dice (except a sheet, not a cube).

There it is! And I did this all from one potato. As you can probably guess, the small dice (1/4" cubes) are made exactly the same way: create a template and use it to perfect your cuts.

I have to admit, these aren't perfect, and it kind of bothered me (you can really tell with the medium dice.

For recipes, these are really good for soups and stews. It is important that all of your cuts are extremely uniform, because then everything cooks evenly.

Next up: a quick honing demonstration.


Crystal said...

Things I want to see:

1. The scraps.
2. Your look of frustration at not having uniform cubes.
3. A mid-air action shot of them being dumped into a soup with satisfaction.

Maggie said...

Neil, are you wearing a pink shirt with frogs on it? (3rd picture from the top)

derek said...

Thanks both for the potatoes and the knife explanation. I thought the spinach was pretty impressive too, but by the time I read it you had already written another post so I decided not to comment on it.

So, my question is, if you're making a lot of potatoes (like I made latkes for 10 people the other night so I was grating for ~45 minutes) how do you prevent them from turning pink?

derek said...

Oh, and I assume that you have a little tripod or something for your camera and use the timer . . . but do you end up getting potato juice and bits all over it when you set up your shots?

Max said...

Yes, that is a nice apron.

dr jss'ka said...

Ditto on the apron comments... I didn't even notice the knife skills. I want to see a full body shot of that!