Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A recipe I have been learning requires acorn squash wedges. I have been using my 8" chef knife to make a shallow cut in the outside, then kind of jabbing it with a small knife like carving a pumpkin until I have enough of a cut to split it in half.

How should I cut acorn squash into wedges? Techniques to make it easier?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

SAFETY should be your primary concern in all cooking methods. The danger inherent in cutting dense, hard, ROUND foods is that they tend to roll or shift when pressure is applied, thus allowing hand or fingers to suddenly slip under/against the cutting edge. One key to safety is STABILITY. Hasty chopping, hacking, swinging, or stabbing motions are dangerous--especially if you can't be sure the food will stay put. Firm, controlled movement upon a stable surface is the safe way.

Placing the squash on a nest fashioned from a tightly-wadded or rolled, clean kitchen towel is a good way to achieve stability. It is also important to work with a very sharp knife that has a rather thick blade. This acts like a wedge acts in wood-splitting. The knife should also be several inches longer than the diameter of the widest place on the squash, to allow for gripping both ends of the blade during the final cut through.

Place the squash on your towel nest, use another kitchen towel, folded, as a sort of mitt. This "mitt" should be thin enough that you can grasp firmly with it. (100% cotton towelling usually grips better.) Using your mitt, grip the wider end of the squash; insert the tip of the knife into one of the longitudinal ridges, with the cutting edge away from that mitted hand, until the knife has nearly come out the opposite side, lodging in the flesh of the squash on the opposite side. Then, lever the knife edge down in a motion that uses the lodged knife-point as a fulcrum. (Think of the motion of a paper-cutter.) Flip the squash over, repeating this, until the pointed end is cut all the way through. Up-end the squash, placing it on its stem end in the towel nest. Check for stability. Place your knife into the slit, perpendicular to the axis of the squash. Use your gripping towel to pad the non-cutting side of the knife, then press down until the squash is cleaved through.

share|improve this answer
    
Well written, good advice here. Safety first, folks. Welcome to Seasoned Advice! –  Preston Fitzgerald Jan 5 at 4:45

Acorn squashes are notoriously difficult to cut.

There are two techniques, short of a bandsaw, that can make it easier:

  • Using a sharp chef's knife, chop into the side. Now, lay a folded towel over the top of the blade, and tap it with a wooden meat mallet similar, slowly pushing it through.

  • Use a cleaver (not the delicate oriental style). You won't have the precision, but it does the job.

I have not tried it, but I suspect an electric knife will also do the job very well.

share|improve this answer
    
The advice I've heard is a rubber mallet, I think without the towel. –  Jefromi Jan 4 at 13:42
    
@Jefromi Sure, same idea. –  SAJ14SAJ Jan 4 at 14:07
    
The mallet (with a cleaver) is how I get into pie pumpkins. –  derobert Jan 5 at 1:29

I stab the things through with my chef's knife, at about the center of the squash, and aligned between stem and flower end. Then, holding the stem end down, rotate the knife down past the flower end. That gets me a neatly half-cut squash. Reinserting the knife into the incision, I bang the squash on my cutting board (or press on the dull sides of the knife), until the acorn is cut through completely. It helps to knock the stem off w a knife, or counter edge, before beginning.

share|improve this answer
    
I use the same stab-and-rotate method, and have never had a problem. I find that a relatively heavy but thin blade works best (so I'm not trying to force it apart as well as cutting it at the same time, as you'd want to do with the other methods suggested) –  Joe Jan 6 at 15:36

I think the way to do this is place the squash on a towel on its side. Hold it with another towel and take your best knife, a large french knife or a japanese clever, and slice off the top half inch then the bottom half inch. Then you can sit the squash flat on your table and cut your wedges.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.