In this article we’ll discuss the brunoise cut. In short, brunoise is a tiny uniform cube usually 3mm by 3mm square that can be used in a variety of ways.
There are several kitchen knife techniques that are essential when working in a professional kitchen, but helpful to know if you cook at home. With a little knowledge of the backbone of the cutting techniques used in French cooking, you can learn how to perform them with confidence, which will help to improve your food presentation and your ability to combine flavors in various ways. Here, we explain one of the most important culinary knife cuts - the brunoise.
The cut you choose depends greatly on the ingredient and how and when you will add it to the recipe. Read on learn how a range of knife cuts differ and when to choose one over the other.
History of the Brunoise Cut
Rumor has it that brunoise originated and was popularized in the Brunoy Commune, about 12 miles southeast of Paris, thus brunoise meaning from Brunoy.
Influence in French cuisine: Stock, a broth made from vegetables, animals bones and sometimes meat is the foundation of French cooking. The brunoise cut is essential to the process.
Definition of a Brunoise Cut
Dimensions and appearance: A standard brunoise size is 3mm (1/8 “) square, where the fine brunoise is half that that size at 1.5mm (1/16th “).
Comparison with other cuts: Less exacting terms like dice cut and fine dice are akin to the brunoise cut, but lacking a definitive measurement. Julienne is a commonly used cutting term, referring to thin stips of ingredient. Mince, refers to vegetables that have been chopped as finely as possible.
What is a “fine” brunoise? A fine brunoise is the standard within France, as is simply the smaller size, 1.5mm per side.
Techniques for Achieving a Brunoise Cut
Tools required: Depending on the size of the starting ingredient, the types of knives best suited for brunoise style cuts are are the petty knife, chef’s knife, nakiri or bunka. While a petty might work best for a cucumber, a nakiri for hard produce like a sweet potato and a chef's knife would be a good choice for any of the above.
Aside from a good sharp knife, preferably Japanese, you’ll need a stable cutting board, preferably something on the softer side as to not damage a sharp blade edge.
Step-by-step guide to making a brunoise cut: The first thing you want to do before you cut vegetables into a brunoise is to make the ingredient into a rectangle shape. You do this by removing the top and tail and then slicing it flat on all four sides. Think of the process when you start with an oblong potato and now you have a rectangular shape.
Once you have a stable rectangle to work with, you cut planks, and then batonnet or match sticks that are 3mm tall by 3mm wide, finally stacking and slicing to end up with a small dice that equals cut brunoise.
Tips for precision and safety: It’s important to focus on the task at hand, keep your hands and fingers out of the way of the blade and go slowly. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempts lack that uniformity you are going for. This same goes for julienne cut, chiffonade and more French knife cuts.
Applications in Cooking
The vegetables where a brunoise cut is typically used are carrots, celery, leeks and turnips. A brunoise can be used as an aromatic garnish, and can be found in consommé or for mirepoix, the starting point for soups and stocks.
Other commonly brunois-ed vegetables include shallots, potatoes, zucchini, cucumber and tomatoes. Of course, the softer the ingredient, the greater the importance of using a sharp knife.
Benefits of using this cut in culinary preparations: The uniform size and shape allows the ingredients to cook at the same rate. Also, the small size of the small cubes, with their uniform surface area, allows for the flavors of the ingredients to be quickly incorporated into the final dish.
Advantages of Brunoise Cut
This basic knife cut, enhances the flavors and textures of veggies, whether for sauté or stews. It’s used as a building block in France, but can benefit home cooks worldwide.
It has been said that we eat with our eyes first, so the importance of using careful knife skills for uniform shapes will not only result in more precise cooking, but increase the aesthetic appeal in presentation.
Whether you are after a small dice, medium dice or large dice, learning the brunoise cut is a great first French knife cut to learn. You will find it useful in a range of applications, from making a foundational mirepoix for stock, to garnishing a finished dish.
All things worth learning take time and with hours of practice and careful dedication, you’ll have a brunoise cut that you will be proud of.