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L.A. Times Test Kitchen tip: Breaking down a bell pepper

March 5, 2011 |  6:00 am


At one of my first restaurant jobs after culinary school my daily prep list often included "breaking down" (i.e., cutting up) a case of bell peppers for my station. It was just one of dozens of items to prepare for the several dishes I was responsible for during my shift.

Most restaurant cooks prep their individual cooking stations where they put together the particular dishes they are assigned that shift. The cook has a limited amount of time to prepare each ingredient or component (sauces, dough, garnish, meat, etc.). Time is precious.

I'll never forget one of the experienced line cooks, Carlos, who worked next to me. Having worked in a number of restaurants over the years, he could break down a case of artichokes in minutes. Carlos took pity on me my first few weeks and showed me how to prep my station in the time I was given, and to find my rhythm in the hot, busy kitchen. Cutting up a bell pepper was the first trick Carlos ever showed me, and I still think of him every time I see one in the kitchen.

To learn how to break down a bell pepper easily and quickly, follow the jump. If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

-- Noelle Carter

Photo: Knife meets pepper. Credit: Noelle Carter and Alex Broking

Step 1: The whole pepper.


Step 2: Slice off the top and bottom of the pepper.


Step 3: Slice the sides of the pepper into flat strips, working your way around the pepper. The sides should come off in four or five strips.


Step 4: Slicing the sides of the pepper.


Step 5: A broken down pepper. Note that the seeds are left intact, and the pepper has been reduced to relatively flat pieces, making it easier to do the fine cuts.


Step 6: Julienning one of the bell pepper strips.