The art of taillage, or basic vegetable cuts, are among one of the first skills you must master at culinary school. Beyond making your dish beautiful, classic knife cuts are a practical way to ensure each vegetable is cooked evenly.To practice, start with your whole vegetable, like a carrot, potato, or turnip, in front of you. Trim and square off the organic, curved edges. Portion you vegetable into roughly two-inch long sections. Next, decide the cut you want to make. Then, slice your vegetable into even planks (1/8-inch thick for a julienne, ¼-inch for macédoine, ½-inch for paysanne). Then, slice your plank into even batons. From there you can dice into even cubes.
Knife cuts can leave you with lots of vegetable waste, since it requires lots of trimming to make your organically shaped carrot, parsnip, or potato into perfectly squared off, even shapes. However, you can save the scraps for making stock, purées, and sauces where perfect knife cuts are less important.
Batonnet or baton is a matchstick knife cut. The precise dimensions are a 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch and then roughly to 2- to 2 1/2-inches long.
A brunoise references a 1/8-inch square, small dice that is exactly half the size of the larger macédoine dice. This dice is achieved by first cutting your firm vegetable into a julienne and then dicing into cubes.
A julienne is a small matchstick cut. The vegetables are cut into batons that are 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch and about one to two inches long.
Meaning a small dice. A macédoine is a 1/4-inch square cube that is made from cutting down a baton.
A paysanne is a flat square. The dimensions for the classic cut are ½-inch by 1/2-inch by 1/8-inch. To achieve this cut start with a ½-inch by 1/2-inch baton, and then dice the vegetable into a flat 1/8-inch thick square.