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As an occasional cook, I know the value of correctly diced vegetables when the recipe calls for it. But I don't have the knife skills to work through a soup's worth of vegetables in under an hour. In lieu of simply "getting better" with the knife (if I were going to be a chef, it would have happened by now), how can I quickly and accurately mow through a pile of dicing work?

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    There are dicing (or "cubing" kits) for some mandoline models. If you can't improve your knife skills, improve your technology. – djmadscribbler Jul 3 '14 at 19:11
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    Are you open to redefining what "correctly diced" means? If so, then it'll make your prep quicker and less stressful and you'll find that your knife skills are accurate enough. As long as they evenly cook and don't take up the entire spoon, is that enough? Or do you really need to visually impress? – Michael E. Jul 3 '14 at 19:23
  • @djmadscribbler - Tell me more. – KatieK Jul 3 '14 at 19:41
  • @MichaelE. - They don't need to look pretty, but they do need to cook as expected. For example, when making soup, I need the celery and onions to practically dispensary, and for the potatoes to be small enough to give up their starch and thicken the soup. – KatieK Jul 3 '14 at 19:42
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    @KatieK - for uniformity, djmadscribbler is on point, a mandoline is quick and easy. I'll typically slice and cut vegetables where some pieces are a bit larger and less square than others and I figure that the smaller pieces will reduce more than the larger ones (e.g. potatoes). For celery and onions that need to dispense (? disperse/disappear ?) you can grate them. It's a bit 'rustic', but it works. – Michael E. Jul 3 '14 at 22:21
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Try a mandoline. If you're not familiar, it's a gadget that has a horizontal blade for slicing as you slide food across it. Most have a dial that allows you to adjust thickness or to create julienne or "French-fry" shape. You can then just do one more chop to turn the "fries" into dice.

Aside from that, I'd be remiss if I didn't make a plug for improving knife skills! :)

  • practice practice practice! It's worth the time investment.
  • class! I took a 2-hour knife skills class at a local kitchen supply store. I went from mediocre to slightly-better-than-mediocre knife skillz in no time! You'll learn some tips and tricks to make it go more smoothly.

Good luck.

  • For the record, looks like @djmadscribbler beat me to the mandoline idea! – hoc_age Jul 3 '14 at 20:05
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    Standard mandolines only slice or julienne. To achieve a dice, you can either perform the largest julienne and use another knife to cut the strips into cubes, or you can find a mandoline (I believe that OXO has a "V-slicer" -as they call it- as well as other manufacturers such as de Buyer) that have a with a cube kit or cubing capabilities. – djmadscribbler Jul 3 '14 at 20:14
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    Mandolines are famous for taking off the ends of fingers, so be really careful! I'd suggest a protective glove when using one. – GdD Jul 4 '14 at 9:44
  • agreed w/ GdD -- the ones for home use come with hand guards for a reason. – Joe Jul 4 '14 at 15:08
  • Here's the cubing attachment for the Oxo mandoline. That said, I have no idea how such a thing would work... A blade would need to be going cross-wise to the slicing motion. Looking around I see several questions about how this works but no answers. – hoc_age Jul 4 '14 at 15:52
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You don't quickly and accurately mow through without knife skills, you are either slow and accurate or quick and inaccurate. Which you chose depends on the result you want.

If you have a load of vegetables and not much knife skill here's what I suggest:

  • Bigger pieces mean less cuts, and therefore less time
  • Go for a rougher cut, less accuracy means less time. Tell them it's a rustic dish
  • if you are cutting long vegetables like zucchini or carrots try cutting them the long way into 4 pieces, then chopping across, that way for every cross cut you are getting 4 pieces. Try to use this principle for other vegetables as well, it's a big time-saver

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