Dice Carrots with Celerity!

Three steps to make quick work of your roots

Most knife skills books will have you square your carrot off, slice exact planks, segment the planks into sticks, and finally cut them down to a precisely diced finish. It’s a painstaking, time-consuming process even with the sharpest of knives. The results that method yields are undeniable, and if you’ve got lots of time and exactitude of your finished vegetables is important to your presentation, it makes sense to follow the long way.

These results in less time than you think possible!

For most purposes, though, it just doesn’t make sense to labor over perfecting each orange box into exact 1/4-inch cubehood. So, why bother? Get 96% of the results while spending just 23% of the time by following these three easy steps. Your salads will look better, your stews will cook more uniformly, and you’ll get out of the kitchen sooner—it’s a win-win-win situation.

The first thing you need to do is to make the carrot more manageable of a vegetable to work with. Cut the (peeled) root down into straight segments no longer than 3/4 the length of your knife. Each segment should be of uniform girth.

Then, carefully, making sure that the carrot doesn’t roll out from under you as you’re making the incisions, cut lengthwise almost the entire length of the carrot.
carefully slice 3/4 the length of the carrot

Roll it halfway around, and do the same thing again. You should be left with a four-armed vegetable, each of the arms sharing a common shoulder. If you’re cutting a thicker portion of carrot, or you want a smaller finished product, try making two incisions on either one or both axes, in which case you would wind up with either a six- or nine-armed carrot.
you should have a four-armed carrot

By leaving the arms of the carrot connected, they stay together in an organized fashion. They’re easy to deal with and you’ll be able to dice them all at once instead of having to worry about each one separately.
Turn the carrot and cut crosswise across the four arms, trying to slice off chunks that are long as they are wide.

cut crosswise across the arms into uniform chunks

Once you have fully segmented the carrot’s arms, all you’ll have left is its shoulder. If you cut almost all the way to the end of the carrot when you made your first two incisions, simply cut the shoulder into four pieces and it should match the rest of your pile.

neatly diced carrots

I’ll admit that the results you’ll achieve with this method won’t win a knife skills competition, and that in such a context, they would even be called “rustic”… but chances are, you won’t have judges measuring your finished carrots with a ruler. And even if you do, they’ll verify that your results are pretty darn good—not to mention less wasteful than a perfect dice would be, because you use the whole carrot, instead of sacraficing the rounded edges in the name of precise uniformity.

Photo credits: Aurora Sharrard

4 Responses to “Dice Carrots with Celerity!”

  1. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » Making Perfect Knife Cuts Says:

    [...] For most vegetables (carrots and onions being two of the few exceptions), the most efficient way to dice them also yields perfect results. If you are able to keep the pieces of your veggies organized into neat stacks, you will be able to slice through them several layers at a time, swiftly producing beautiful cuts. batonnet: 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 2-2.5″ [...]

  2. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » Huevos con Papas y Col Rizada Says:

    [...] This dish is a great way to practice your knife skills, too—it will give you a chance to practice dicing potatoes, carrots, and onions; peeling garlic; and introduce you to a great way to slice leaves of anything: the chiffonade cut! [...]

  3. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » Knife Skills Table of Contents Says:

    [...] Intermediate Knife Cuts: Carrots are a fairly hard vegetable, and it doesn’t help much that they’re round. Here’s a time-saving technique that will help you make quick work of your carrots. [...]

  4. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » The History of Carrots Says:

    [...] And, for info on the easiest way to dice carrots, visit http://corduroyorange.com/?p=34 [...]

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