The three legs of a mirepoix are onion, carrots and celery, and they are so universal in cooking, that if you don't have the right knife skills and don't get proficient at dicing them, you’re going to spending way too much time prepping instead of eating!! Dicing an onion is a bit of a different beast, and we’ll do a separate demo for that. Carrots and celery are pretty similar though, and you can use the same technique for both. Of course, you can modify your cuts, to vary the size of your dice, but large or small, knowing how to chop, is going to make your life a whole like easier.
To quickly chop carrots and celery I follow a few simple principles:
- First, work with manageable sizes. When you get really good, go ahead and keep the carrot whole; when you’re learning, cut it in half (or smaller) to a size that makes it easy to handle
- Second, create and use flat sides. Round vegetables are hard to deal with because they are unstable on the cutting board. But there’s an easy fix, cut it down the middle length-wise, and then you have a rounded side and a flat side. Putting that flat side on the cutting board more gives you a much more stable base.
- Third, make match sticks, then dice. Your first few cuts, you are going to make long match stick like pieces. Go through the whole carrot, and get all your match sticks, and then go through all the match sticks to get your dice.
- Finally, consistency is your friend. Different purposes will call for different size dice, and that’s perfectly fine. However, for the same recipe you want to make the dice as uniform as possible. Doing so will allow the vegetable to cook evenly, so you don’t end up with over cooked small pieces and raw big pieces.