My husband got me a mandolin for Christmas, and I can't find much use for it. I watched the video and read the instructions but it isn't working too well for me. For example, I wanted to make sweet potato fries but the sweet potato seems to be too hard/dense for the mandolin to cut smoothly. I'm also thinking that it would be just as speedy to dice and julienne vegetables by had as it would be to pull out the mandolin, set it up, and dice and slice with it.
Any thoughts on this? Is this a redundant or un-necessary cooking gadget? Does anyone have a mandolin and just love it? If so, I'd love to know what you use it for.
Assuming that you got a real mandolin, and not the converted little potato peeler that you see on the television ads, you have probably set the blade for too thick a cut. That is why the vegetables seem to hard and dense -- it is more than it really can handle with ease. A very thin cut will be much easier to execute.
I had that problem when I first got my Matfer. Frankly, at the time, I too decided it was a lot easier to use a good sharp knife. However, if you need to get really, really thin pieces, nothing else can do it with consistency, and nothing else can do waffle cuts, which my family loves.
If you don't do much very thin slicing, you may be better off with a new knife or cutting board, or even the attachment that goes on a Kitchen Aid mixer that does the same thing (sort of). It was a good thought, but it all depends on how much thin slicing you really do.
My husband bought me a very expensive one a few years back. I can find lots of uses for it but I am having the same trouble as you. I really would like to try making waffle fries for example. It seems like everything gets stuck. I have been blaming my technique so I will love to see the responses you get.
I find that sweet potatoes in particular are VERY fibrous, especially when slicing length-wise i.e., the direct you slice for fries! So yeah, they are extremely hard to cut. That being said I use my mandolin constantly -- need a julienned onion? cut off one end, slice the onion in half about 90% through and cut away, viola! julienned onion in about 10 seconds.
Another issue you might be having (and Snowwish) is the speed. I used to think people use the mandolin super hard and fast to look fancy -- it actually helps a lot to get some momentum going when using it. Another addition you might want to consider is a cut-resistant glove, the kind with mesh in it (either wire or kevlar), make using a mandolin a little more user friendly.
I think I also have a du Buyer. I will have to check at home. I will definetly pick up one of the cut resistant gloves. The gaurd that came with mine is difficult to use. I think the idea of going fast is true but I am always afraid I will cut myself. My DH did try it once (fast) and had no problems. So I will try the glove and setting it to a thinner slice as suggested by RCG1982. I would love to use it to make potatoe chips and gratins.
It's very handy to have one if you need to prep a *lot* of something in exactly the same way, for example if you're making a batch of caramelized onions and you want to slice a big bag of onions all at once. Or if you're making a slaw of some kind and need precise cuts of veggies.
However, as you've learned, it doesn't do so well with harder veggies like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc. I still use a knife for those.
I love mine! We do a lot of pickles (cucumber and squash) and this is 50% of my usage. I love it for potatoes au gratin, but not so much for fries. I also use it for onions as mentioned below. 2 wks ago I had 35 for a bd cleb and made veggie sandwiches for the non-meat eaters. Did celery, peppers, tomatoes (firm), zuchinni, onion, cucumbers in a snap. Along with my mini chopper, immersion blender, and big Kitchen Aid, it is a staple in my kitchen.