I've always been enamored with French technique. Why? Because French technique is to cooking as ballet is to dance: classical, and foundational for everything else in the Western culinary world. Unfortunately, I don't know nearly as much about classical French sauces and knife skills as I wish I did. So, I decided to put myself up to the task of tournéeing, or turning, vegetables into even, elegant elliptical shapes for an aesthetically appealing lamb stew. The result was gorgeous, but I'm quite sure I'll never do it again. It took a ton of work and practice to turn a vegetable just right! But in case you're curious, read on to learn the art of tournéeing a vegetable.
Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips are all ideal and suitable for turning.
Use a larger kitchen knife to chop your vegetable (shown here, a carrot, scrubbed clean), into two-inch pieces.
Now for the turning. Start out with a sharp paring knife. You could use a tourné knife, but it's not necessary if you don't have one.
Hold the vegetable between your thumb and forefinger, carefully peeling it toward you in as tapered a shape as possible.
Keeping your knife steady, turn the vegetable as you go, forming a gentle arc. The classic turned vegetable has a seven-sided shape, so ideally, you will want to repeat the peeling process six more times.
Trim the vegetable on the end, then flip it to its unfinished side and repeat the previous step.
Smooth out any rough edges using your knife (or, if it's easier, a Y peeler).
You should be left with a football shape. If you're truly skilled, it might even be seven-sided.
Save the scraps. Use them in a slaw, wrap them in cheesecloth and add to stocks and broths, or feed them to your pet rabbit.
Poach or steam the vegetables, or use them in a classic French stew or soup.