I want to make a recipe tonight that involves chopping carrots and sweet potatoes. These veggies are boiled and then blended to make a soup (In case you’re interested, the recipe is super delicious and here).
The carrots and sweet potato are a little hard to cut raw. Since I’m going to be boiling them anyways, can I throw quarter them, throw them in boiling water for about ten minutes, and then cut them? Will this make cutting them easier?
Probably not a great idea, for the following reasons:
A couple issues: sauteing the pieces in butter is going to cause a nice carmelization that won’t be duplicated if you boil the carrots/sweet potatoes first, as they’ll be waterlogged.
Additionally, if you boil in water first, some of the flavor of the vegetables will leech into the water and be lost. You could get around that by boiling in the veggy stock that’s used in the recipe, but once again, you’ll lose the carmelization because they’ll still be too watery to properly saute.
Can I ask what you find hard about cutting them? Do you have a proper knife, and is it sharp? If you absolutely can’t cut them, I suggest not boiling them, but maybe grating them instead. Then you can get some of the caramelization from sauteing the grated vegetables. The grated veggies won’t need quite as long as a saute, and not nearly as long as a boil, so keep an eye on them.
Just noticed the lentils; you’ll need to cook those longer than the grated veggies. I’d boil the lentils, stock, and spices for maybe 15-20 minutes then add the grated veggies if you want to go that route.
But firstly, I’d talk more about why the veggies were hard to cut. They shouldn’t be. Give us more info!
Yeah, cutting a carrot shouldn’t take more then a 10 seconds. The real problem with using a crappy knife is that it’s not safe. Think about how much pressure you’re putting on that knife and what would happen if it would slip. You’re pushing soooo hard against the carrot that if it slips off the carrot and hits part of your body it’s going to do a lot more damage then if you had a sharp knife and you weren’t putting so much muscle in to it. It seems backwards, but a sharp knife really is safer. A good sharp chef’s knife shouldn’t offer much resistance when cutting a carrot. If you don’t use it too often, you can probably get away with a cheap knife…just having a new knife will probably help since it will at least be sharp.
Take the blender back and get a decent knife. Blenders are fluff; good knives (as you’ve found out) are requirements.
Cook’s Illustrated rates this knife as a pretty good inexpensive chef’s knife. But even a cheaper one will do you well as long as it’s sharp, and you throw it away and buy a new one when it dulls. As Joey P says, not only are dull knives bad to cut with, but they’re dangerous as well.
And depending on what you spent on the blender, you might be able to get a good knife and an immersion blender, which, frankly, is much easier to blend soup with. No transferring hot liquids and only one dirty pot instead of two.
Go to a local kitchen supply store and look for Messermeister knifes; they’re generally a good balance between quality and price. For cutting vegetables, you might want to think about getting an offset knife.
I understand if you can’t spend the money on a good knife (really, I do), but I recently bought 3 really excellent Wusthoff knives and they come with a lifetime guarantee, meaning 10 or 20 years down the road they will replace them free of charge just for normal use wear and tear. Also, they sharpen them for free once a year. These knives are amazing, make everything in the kitchen much easier and faster, and you can get the a forged 6’’ or 8’’ chef’s knife for about $80. So if you really do have $80 to spare, you could solve all your problems for the rest of your life.
LOL I was just peeking in to suggest a bigger knife … I find that a larger heavier knife is better to cut recalcitrant root veggies with. I have to admit the first time I had to chop a huge rutabaga I grabbed one of our swords just to get some weight
I agree with everyone else who said a decent knife is essential. In the meantime, perhaps you could take the one you have to the meat counter of your nearest supermarket and see if they can sharpen it for you.
At work, when someone buys a large squash I usually offer to split it open for them. I know how hard it is to do at home with a steak knife…or even a moderate chef’s knife. I use our big watermelon knife. It’s big enough that it can do it in one stroke, but more importantly, like you said, it’s got some weight behind it.
Pretty sure this isn’t the OP’s problem, but it might be worth relating. I am a lazy, lazy person, and I far prefer disposable plates and utensils over grown-up stuff. So when I decided to try cutting raw carrots, I tried to use a paper plate instead of an actual cutting board. :smack: It slides, it’s a small space, and the lip of the plate prevents putting the knife where it needs to go. I couldn’t cut carrots worth a damn. Eventually I gave in and pulled out the real cutting board, and wouldn’t you know it, the darn things became super easy to slice.