[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t's the one vegetable that makes home cooks quiver in their boots. The onion, despite its versatility, just makes chopping it a hard time. Sure, you, as a home cook, can get past the watery eyes (sunglasses, goggles, and paper towels), but trying to master an even chop is a knife skill that culinary students spend so much time learning. So here's our breakdown on how to chop an onion the easy way. All you need is your trust sharp knife.
You can follow along with the video above, or if you're more of a words person, you can read the full instructions below.
The trick to chopping an onion evenly is to create a series of fewer cuts that, when you finally make the final chops, work for you instead of against you. Basically you'll be creating a template along the length of the onion so when you cut through, you'll have homogenous, evenly sized onion chunks. While there may be no real right way to chop an onion, this is universally agreed upon as the best way possible by cooking instructors.
How to Chop an Onion
To get chopping, remember that an onion has both a root end and a stem end. These will be your markers for getting your chop right. You usually distinguish the root end because it's onion-furry. It's also the more stable anchor of the two, meaning it's usually bigger than the stem. Grab your sharp chef's knife and let's get to work.
Slice the stem end completely off the onion and slide it away. You don't need it!
Now, you have a flat surface on the onion to hold against the chopping board. Slice the onion in half at the root end, and put one onion half aside. You'll be working on the onion one half at a time.
Peel the outer layer and papery skin off that half! Be sure to leave the root end in-tact during this entire process.
Now let's get down to business. Lay the onion half flush against the cutting board on the smooth, flat side. Turn the onion so the root end is facing the right or left, whatever way is more comfortable for you to work with.
Slice into the onion making horizontal cuts, without cutting all the way through. When your knife reaches the root end, simply pull it out and continue to make slices. The width between slices will be determined by how finely chopped you need your onions.
Generally, a normal chop sees about five slices along the length of the onion.
When you're finished slicing along, turn the onion so the root end faces away from you.
Begin to slice along the length of the onion, being sure not to cut the onion slices away at the root end. Don't cut all the way through here, either, that is always a bad idea.
The width between each cut will depend, again, on how finely chopped you'd like your onion. Typically, you can eke out about six slices along the onion.
Now for the finale! Turn the onion so the root end is facing the same way you started - if it faced the right, turn it to the right. If it faced the left, turn it left.
From there, just slice down through the onion, going all the way through and away. The cuts you made should result in evenly-sized, chopped squares of onion, waiting to be plopped in a hot pan. Voila! Your cooking skills are that much better.