A knife cut is how a chef or cook slices food into a specific shape. The different types of basic knife cuts are batonnet, dice, allumette, mince, julienne, and brunoise. Different cuts are required depending on the dish being prepared because foods cook at different speeds and the size or shape of the ingredients affects how long a dish must cook to be prepared correctly.
Batonnet is a culinary term used to describe one of the cuts used in preparing vegetables. It is a long cube that should measure approximately 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) square and 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm) long. A cook will use this cut on potatoes when cooking french fries or for celery and carrots when preparing a raw vegetable tray. When dicing food, the chef will start with the batonnet cut then slice the 3 inch (7.6 cm) long batonnet into smaller cubes, which are called a dice. Cheese for appetizers or bread for fondue is often cut into a dice.
The allumette cut is also used in vegetable preparation. Also known as the matchstick cut, due to its resemblance to a matchstick, the allummette is approximately the same length as the batonnet, but much thinner. A vegetable prepared this way will measure only about 0.25 inch (0.6 cm) square by 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) long. When chopping food, the chef will start with the allummette cut then slice the 2.5 inch (6.35 cm) long piece into tiny cubes called a fine chop. Nuts are often cut this way for desserts.
One of the most familiar basic knife cuts is the julienne. It is thinner than the allummette or batonnet and is used to shred food. The food, such as a carrot, is cut into a 2.5 inch (6.35 cm) long strip, then sliced to approximately 0.125 inch (0.3 cm) square. The julienne cut is used to make hash browns and shredded cheese. This cut may also be used to dress up salads or cocktails with candied lemon peels.
The smallest cuts are known as brunoise cuts. A brunoise is the same thickness as a julienne cut at 0.125 inch (0.3 cm) square, but instead of leaving the food in 2.5 inch (6.35 cm) long strips, it is cut into 0.125 inch (0.3 cm) squares. When mincing food, the chef will start with the brunoise cut and continue to cut into the food is finely chopped. Onions and garlic are often cut into a mince because the flavor would be too intense if left in larger pieces.