Small cutting boards, especially ones made of plastic or glass, make food preparation difficult.  Large wooden ones, on the other hand, can make prep easy and enjoyable.  The photo to the left shows the four boards I use stacked on top of one another.  The pale one on the bottom is 25″ x 21″.  It’s half of a counter top from IKEA and it is the one I use whenever I’m making something with lots of chopped ingredients–meatballs, minestrone, Cobb salad.  It gives me the space to chop one ingredient and then push it aside to do another, creating a mise en place.  When the time comes to put it all together I can either bring over a big bowl or move the board to the stove if it has to go into a cooking vessel.  The second board sits to the left of our stove near the toaster so it gets used for cutting bread, making toast/sandwiches and small chopping jobs.  The third one, a carving board, has a groove cut into it to catch meat juices when you’re carving a steak or a roast.  The top one, by far the prettiest, is the one I grab for small jobs when my husband’s at the stove.  Things like chopping garlic, slicing tomatoes or cutting up potatoes.  I consider all these boards essential tools for good cooking.  They can be expensive, so this is another case where thrift stores can be a good source.  If you find one that looks a little too used, you can sand it down and then oil with mineral oil.  As for cleaning, mine get scrubbed in the sink with hot, soapy water and then dried.  So if you want to improve your skills, get rid of those tiny boards and get a big one–you’ll see the difference the first time you use it.

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