Carrots are a part of so many dishes, whether it is as part of the classic mirepoix that is the foundation of so much cooking, or the star of a crudité platter, these root vegetables are a workhorse in your kitchen.
They are also weirdly shaped, conical, slippery things that can be a little hard to break down if you don’t know how. So here is a quick tutorial in carrot butchery.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
Choose your carrots
Carrots tend to come in three sizes. Baby, regular, and large. Baby carrots are usually just larger carrots that have been peeled, cut down and reshaped to be a convenience food. You rarely need to cut these, but if you are making a recipe that requires carrots and they are all you have, use the same techniques. You’ll just need to do a lot more cutting! Regular carrots tend to come in either bunches or bags and are your go-to for most applications. Large carrots are usually sold individually, and are great for things like soups, stocks and the like, where you want larger chunks.
Get the recipe: Baby Carrots With Herb Dressing and Olives
Peel and top and tail your carrots
I’m as concerned about food waste as the next girl, but let’s just be honest, carrot peels are pretty gross, and a little bitter. Sure, you can scrub away to make them not dirty, so if you are insistent, feel free. But for my money, all carrots should be peeled. Pick either a straight peeler or Y-shaped peeler, whichever is most comfortable for you. Once peeled, remove the top half-inch and bottom half-inch and your carrots are ready for breaking down.
Get the recipe: Glazed Baby Carrots
Rounds, half-moons, and wedges
Always use a sharp knife and hold the carrot firmly with your fingers curled under so that you don’t cut yourself. For rounds, cut the whole carrot straight across to whatever thickness you want.
For half-moons, slice the carrot lengthwise in half, then place the flat side on your board and cut to your desired thickness.
For wedge shapes, slice the carrot lengthwise in half, then place the flat side on your board and cut in half again lengthwise, then cut crosswise however thick you like.
Get the recipe: Couscous Pilaf with Roasted Carrots, Chicken, and Feta
Sticks, julienne, and dice
When doing sticks or diced carrots, you want first to square off one side of the carrot to keep it stable on the board while you make your other cuts, so slice a thin slice off one side and lay the flat part on your board. Cut crosswise into the lengths you want, usually 3 inches is a good standard. Then cut into sticks the thickness you like.
Larger sticks are good for vegetable platters, and thin ones are good for salads or pickling. To make diced carrots, stack up the slices and cut across into however large a dice you would like.
Get the recipe: Glazed Julienne Carrots
Cutting carrots on the bias into oval planks can make for prettier dishes, but also larger slices that are good for candied carrots, pickled carrots, and even grilled or smoked carrots. Simply cut the carrot on a severe angle to the thickness you prefer.
For stir fries, a rolling cut makes for interesting irregular shapes. You make your first cut on a slight angle, then roll the carrot a quarter turn and cut again on the same angle. Keep rolling and cutting till you get a bunch of trapezoidal chunks. And finally, you can use a wavy cutter to make ribbed carrot chips that really hold on to dips.
Get the recipe: Savory Carrot Ribbon Tart
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