Cutting Safety: The Corral (method 1 of 3)

Chef Debra demonstrates the corral method for chopping and mincing herbs or garlic into small pieces. Here she chops dill. Note, she is holding the handle of the knife firmly.

The corral method of cutting

There is no one best method to cut foods. Foods vary in size, density, and shape. This month our knife safety feature is focused on the corral method, which is excellent for cutting food into very small pieces with no need for a specific shape. Some recipes call for the cook to “mince” the garlic. Other recipes direct the cook to cut the fresh herbs into small pieces. Fresh parsley, cilantro, and dill are commonly cut into very small pieces. If small pieces are the outcome you desire, the corral method is an excellent method to get that result safely and efficiently.

How to use the corral method:

Note: A chef’s knife is the best tool for this method. A blade length of six to eight inches (not including the handle) will work for most cooks.

Step 1: Place the clean and trimmed food you want to cut into a pile on your cutting surface. To reduce messes, Chef Debra uses the TBK Work Trays with upturned sides to prevent any small pieces of food from dropping off the cutting surface.

Note: TBK recommends that you wear a “Cut Glove” on the hand that is holding the food that will be cut. It is quite flexible and is made of cut-resistant threads that cannot be cut by your knife. (Order our Cut Glove.)

Chef Debra demonstrates the corral method for chopping and mincing herbs or garlic into small pieces. Here she chops dill. Note, she is holding the handle of the knife firmly.
Working on a TBK Work Tray with upturned sides to prevent any small pieces of food from dropping off the cutting surface, Chef Debra holds the chef’s knife firmly by the handle with her dominant hand.

Step 2: Hold the knife firmly by the handle in your dominant hand taking care to pinch the blade of the knife blade closest to the handle between your index finger and thumb, while the other three fingers are wrapped safely around the handle ensuring safe spin-free control of the knife.

Step 3: Locate the center of the section of food to be cut and place the tip of your knife blade to the side of that portion of food. You will not lift the tip of your knife off of the board when performing this cutting method. Instead, the tip knife wil serve as your anchor point and will not be lifted for this method. Place the index finger of your non dominant hand on the back of the blade so it is pressing the tip of the knife firmly to the cutting surface. Now you will use that anchor point as a focus for the next steps.

Chef Debra demonstrates the corral method of cutting. Here she lowers the handle of the knife onto the cutting surface, chopping dill into small pieces.
Chef Debra anchors the blade to the cutting surface by putting the index finger of her non-dominant hand on the back of the blade so it is pressing the tip of the knife firmly to the cutting surface.

Step 4: Lower the handle of the knife through the food until it reaches the cutting surface making one cut through the food. Do not release the tension in your non-dominant index finger that is holding the point of the knife to the cutting surface.

Step 5: Lift the knife handle, while holding the tip of the blade in the same spot and rotate the knife a very short distance, maintaining your anchor, and once again lower the handle of the knife causing the blade to cut through a second section of the food. Your blade tip should still be held to the same anchor point.

Chef Debra demonstrates step 3 of the corral method, rotating the blade a short distance before lowering it to the cutting surface again.
Chef Debra demonstrates how to rotate the knife a very short distance, still anchoring the blade to the cutting surface, and again lower the handle of the knife causing the blade to cut through a second section of the food.

Step 6: Repeat Step 6 until you have cut through all of the food in that section one time. Check the food to see if it is the size you desire.

Step 7:  If you would like to cut the food into smaller pieces you need to “corral” or gather the partially cut food into a pile on your cutting surface. Again, anchor the tip of the knife blade to the cutting surface roughly at the center point to one side of the pile and do the rotating cuts from one side of the pile to the other. Repeat this until the pieces are as small as you desire.

Next steps

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