I Need Help With Onions

onionDear FlyLady,

I don’t know what is wrong, but when I try to do one of Leanne’s recipes it always takes me longer to put it together than she says it will. It takes me 5 minutes just to cut up the onion. Please help me.

FlyBaby N.


Dear FlyBaby N,

I don’t think you are the only one who has an issue with this. The other day I was teaching Michele to cook southern. She is probably going to kill me for telling you all this but, I stood there and watched her cut up an onion one little piece at a time. Then I asked her if she wanted a short cut. Michele is all over short cuts. This is how I do it.

1. I cut the onion in half from root to stem.
2. Cut off the stem leaving the root in place (that is where the tears come from)
3. Then peel back the outside layer.
4. Then lay the flat side down on your cutting board.
5. Now hold the onion down in one hand and gently slice lines from root to stem. Keeping the onion together
6. Now for the fun part. Slice across your onion.
7. Then do the other half.

Leanne can chop much faster than I can; she is a professional cook! I have asked her to do us a video of chopping an onion. I can’t wait. She uses the Claw!

If you need help with basic kitchen techniques and terms or you know someone who does, Leanne has a great book for you! Saving Dinner Basics is a clutter free gift that keeps on giving the blessing of healthy meals for a lifetime.

Here is Leanne instruction for using the claw:

Another problem for cooks is the speed in which they chop. I once had someone email me saying that my recipes took too long to prepare. After corresponding with this gal a few times, I had her break down how long it took her to do everything. When I found out it took her a full five minutes to chop one onion, I knew what the problem was; she had no knife skills.

This is tough one to write about without showing you, but I will do my best. Believe it or not, this is easy. When you’re chopping, you need to use both hands; one for holding whatever it is that you’re cutting (that will be the opposite hand you will be cutting with) and the hand that you are going to cut with. The hand that holds the food we will be transforming temporarily into a claw. Yes, a claw. Why a claw? Glad you asked. Because when you are holding the food in a claw-like fashion, if your knife accidentally gets too close to your fingers, the worst that will happen is your fingers will get too close a shave, but you won’t be losing any fingers! Important safety precaution!


Now as far as making the chopping go smoothly and quickly like they do on Food TV; that just requires a rhythm, which will come as you get better at chopping. The idea is to “rock” the blade slightly as you chop. This will build a rhythm and eventually, your speed. Next time you’re watching the Food Network, pay attention as Emeril chops effortlessly. He’s got his claw going; he’s a-rockin’ and a-choppin’. The whole thing is an art form. Remember though, you’re not Emeril. Go easy and slow and be careful. These are sharp knives we’re working with here, not rubber spatulas.

If you need a visual of what this all looks like, I have a sketch of it all in my Saving Dinner Basics book.

All of Leanne’s book are on Amazon, too! I hope these techniques help you in your next onion-chopping recipe.


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