Monday, April 26, 2010

Tutorial: Onion Basics

Hello again, all you undergrad gourmets!  I hope your weekend was fantastic and that you didn't miss me too much.  But you better have missed me a little, at least.

I'm still getting caught up on everything after this weekend (the production was fabulous, by the way, and I wish that everyone had been able to come see it!) so here is a little tutorial that I made back over spring break.  Hence, the nice cooking utensils and kitchen and photos.  Only a few weeks until I'm back home... which means that it'll be time to work on my food photography skills!

Since I cook with onion, like, every single day of my life, I find it very necessary to be able to peel and chop an onion without crying all over it due to burning eyes.  Of course, sometimes you just can't help it, but I feel like the most pungent onions are also the most flavorful.  I guess you just have to give a little to get a little.

So, here's my step-by-step of how to peel and chop an onion.  Its a basic skill, but until I knew the best way to do it, I was lost.  But now I am found, and you will be too.

What you'll need:

One of these (an onion).

One of these (a good cutting board... I love this one.  I'm stealing it.  Sorry, Mom).

One of these (a good, sharp knife.  This one is from Germany, apparently).

And one of these (a trash bowl, an idea courtesy of Rachael Ray.  It will make your life so much easier).

How to do it:

Start by chopping off both ends of the onion to make a flat surface.

Then, with your knife cut into the top layer of the onion, as shown.  If you go a little further, that's okay too.

Then, you'll be able to reach in and peel back that first layer. 
Note: you want to get rid of the entire layer, not just the skin.  If you try to chop that top layer, it will rebel and you will be unhappy.  Trust me.

And if you're lucky, the whole thing will come off in one piece!  Good job!

Now to chop.  First, cut the onion in half, like so. That means standing it up on it's flat end and cutting down the middle.
(Sometimes Joe gets confused, and I have to explain it to him).

Then, cut vertical slices through one half of the onion. 
Note: I found that there is a much better way to do this step.  Don't cut all the way to the top; leave a little room so that the whole thing stays together.  It makes the next step much easier.

Now, flip your onion ninety degrees and slice the other way.  The closer together your slices are, the smaller the dice will be.  Be sure to stop halfway through to take a picture for your blog.

Oh wait, you're not doing that?  Okay.

Wow!  Look at all that onion you sliced!  You're a crazy onion fool.

For some reason along the way I thought that it would be helpful to do the following.  It was not, so don't do it.

The wrong way to chop an onion:

This was so counterproductive.

Now, go cook something onion-y.  You have lots and lots of options.  Just yesterday, I made a steak sandwich with leftover steak and caramelized onions.  It was deeeelish!

I received a request in my comments last week to make my version of grilled cheese, and I am definitely brainstorming!  Stay tuned later this week for that escapade... any suggestions?


  1. I never knew that you had to take off the outer layer of skin. Interesting....I guess I usually do without thinking about it. Also, yes please to the post about your version of grilled cheese! I LOVE grilled cheese.

  2. I found this very helpful..I also ALWAYS use onions basically for everything I cook...and it's safe to say that 90% of the time, I end up in tears. I will definitely try out your method to onion cutting success!

  3. This is something that I assumed I knew how to do, but I actually didn't! Haha. This was very helpful.

  4. Thanks, guys! I'm definitely not going to say that I'm the "expert" on this subject, but along the way I've found that this is the quickest and easiest for me.