Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fun with Onions

One of the most common cooking tasks that elicits the most unnecessary dread is chopping onions. If you do it wrong (and there are so many ways to do it wrong), you will spend 10 minutes with make-up streaming down your face, wrestling with chunks of onion and end up with uneven, sloppy chunks and a sliced thumb, when all you wanted was guacamole. This Good Housekeeping video illustrates the proper way.

I'm a total wimp about onion tears, so I have several of my own crying-avoidance strategies that aren't mentioned in the video that I've listed below, along with the basic steps.

1. Slice the onion in half, from root to tip, using a nice large chef or santoku knife (not a little paring knife or steak knife, people!)
2. Immediately place both of the flat open sides face-down on the cutting board to prevent the tear-inducing gases from escaping into the air.
3.Cut the tips off (but not the root) and peel both sides of the onion, throwing away the skins.
4. Take one half of the onion and slice it once or twice parallel to the cutting board.
4. Slice evenly into the onion from front to back making several even cuts without slicing through the root.
5. Slice across the onion evenly making nice even cubes.
6. Immediately transfer all of the onion pieces into a small bowl and cover with saran wrap or a plate (again, we are trying to contain the weepy juices here).
7. Repeat steps 4-6 with the other half of the onion.
8. Immediately rinse your cutting board with cold water.

*Use this exact technique for cubing potatoes, or adapt it for chopping garlic or shallots (just use a smaller knife and make more cuts in all directions).

*If you have a stainless steel sink, run your palms and fingers on the metal to get rid of the onion smell on your skin (it works, I swear!)

* If you aren't too vain, and really hate the tears, swimming goggles will completely protect your eyes. No cool guy, sunglasses won't work.

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