Onions 101

Many entrée recipes call for onions, from ordinary Country Stew to Chinese Fried Rice. If you don’t know how to properly handle this versatile little bulb, you’re in trouble.  But the steps below will help you out.

First you’ll have to go to the kitchen. You can do it! You’ve been in there before to grab a beer or to see if there are any potato chips left. Get an onion from the fridge – an onion is the round white thing that looks like a baseball without seams – and get ready to begin.

Dicing

  1. Put the onion on a cutting board.  Your wife or landlord won’t thank you for cutting up the counter top.
  2. Slice the onion in half lengthwise. Cut off the top, but not the bottom fuzzy part. Peel it and your onion should look like the one in the picture.
  3. First cuts:  On the same plane as your original cut make two more cuts from top to bottom, but don’t slice all the way through.  Now your half onion has been divided into thirds, but is still held together.
  4. Second cuts:  Now make cuts perpendicular to the first ones – take a look at the picture. These cuts (along with the next ones) will determine the size of your dice.

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5.  Third cuts:  Turn the onion ninety degrees.  You took off the top before, and now you’ll continue from that point and cut from top
to bottom.  Basically you’ve just cut a grid into the onion.

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6.  The result will be fine diced onion bits, ready for cooking.
7.  This technique can also be used on shallots and garlic.

For a French Cut

  1. Slice the onion in half lengthwise. Cut off the top AND the bottom fuzzy part.
  2. Peel and slice from top to bottom, just like the Third Cuts in the Dicing technique. You should wind up with half-circles (perfect for French Onion Soup).

Food Processors

Never, ever use a food processor to dice an onion!  The cell walls of the onion break down too much, resulting in a mush that tastes terrible when cooked.

Tools

This is going to be a painful and frustrating experience with a dull knife, so you’ll need a sharpener handy. But you don’t need an expensive electronic gizmo; hand sharpeners sell for around ten dollars. That’s right men, there are tools in the kitchen! Therefore, it is a manly domain (I can hear some of you grunting like Tim Allen on Tool Time).

In my next installment we’ll use these techniques to make a French Onion Soup that’s guaranteed to make the woman in your life purr.

Hope this helped your onion skills.  Try it out, and feel free to leave a comment letting me know how it worked for you.  Good luck!

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