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Apr 25, 2013 09:38 PM

Aha moment re knuckle-under chopping technique

I'm an autodidact when it comes to kitchen skills, and have always shied away from the clenched-knuckle hold on produce being chopped/sliced, for fear of flaying my bent phalanges. But I learned the trick today watching Jacques Pepin demonstrating knife skills to cooking-phobic interior decorator Nate Berkus, on the Rachael Ray show. He showed Nate that the blade should be held firmly against the knuckles at all times, so they move together as a single unit. He had Nate practice the motion without produce, just sliding blade and hand unit across the cutting board.
Perhaps there are other Hounds out there who didn't realize how it's supposed to be done.

BTW, he closed yesty's Essential Pepin saying something like "You can always seduce someone with a good recipe." Not so sure about that - I suspect it helps a lot to have a twinkle in your eye, and gobs of Gallic charm! ;-)

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  1. I always revered Jacques Pepin as one of the top chefs in the world. A master at technique,with a world of knowledge.

    1. Thanks for posting this, I've always had trouble with this technique even though it seemed so straightforward.

      1. That is a helpful tip and I'll give it a try because I have trouble maintaining that position when chopping. But if your hand and knife move as a unit, does that mean you're not holding down the item being chopped at all times? I'm thinking specifically of onions..

        1 Reply
        1. re: tcamp

          Good point. Later last night I saw an Essential Pepin wherein his knuckles were not touching the blade - after 60 yrs of doing this. (After many years of crosheting, I can create a granny square without even thinking, much less looking. When teaching a neophyte, I slow down and explain the pattern.) He was clarifying the basic motion for his student. Some adjustment occurs. And onions are among the more difficult shapes to prep, especially if the membrane is slippery.

        2. That surely would have been am "aHa" mament for me too. As far as I'm concerned Chef Pepin can do no wrong and is the Master of technique as Emglow says above. I've always marvelled at how Jamie Oliver makes a great show of chopping whilst looking everywhere except at what he's chopping.

          1. Thanks, that's helpful. And here's the video --


            I see that Jacques' hand is at an angle to the food. I think that's been part of my problem -- the wrong angle.