April 4, 2013 by Jason Rice MD
I have referenced this gadget in a bunch of recipes, most prominently in the meatloaf muffin series, so I figured it was time to make a quick post about one of the most used toys in my kitchen – the chopper. This is essentially a small manual food processor (and, as evidenced by my love of my manual coffee grinder, I like manual gadgets). It’s small size makes it perfect for quick jobs in the kitchen, and clean-up is dramatically faster than using an electric food processor to chop/mince one or two ingredients.
I use these for the bulk of the mincing duty in my kitchen because it’s a great time saver. Also, in the Eats For All Ages kitchen, anything spins around when pounded is a fun way to get our little eater involved at dinner time. (with VERY close supervision, of course…those blades are crazy sharp!) The concept is pretty simple. Food goes into the clear cup and you pump the top. The blades chop through the food and rotate a partial turn each time they return to the raised position. This creates an ever changing direction of chopping and also spins the food in the process. After a few pumps you will have a nice coarse chop (great for onions) and after several more pumps you will have a fine mince, perfect for garlic. My primary use for this device, however, is to get a nice fine mince on several mushrooms to process them for meatloaf muffins. That series of recipes would not exist without this device.
I actually have two of these, an Oxo model and a KitchenAid model. The one pictured here is the Oxo, and that’s the one I use most often. They both essentially do the same thing and work equally well. The KitchenAid is a little tougher to clean because it doesn’t come apart into as many pieces as the Oxo. The flipside of that is that there are less pieces to break. My Oxo actually did break after several years of service and the blade mechanism no longer detaches (yes, this is secondary to my excessively vigorous chopping…) There are also likely several other brands out there, but these are the only two I have experience with. One other nice feature of these choppers is that the reservoir has volumetric marks on it so that you can quickly see how much you’ve chopped for recipes more precise than mine that use values more specific than “some” and “a bit” of any given ingredient.
Generally available for less than twenty dollars, this is an essential gadget for any home kitchen where time is a valuable commodity and an electric food processor is impractical for smaller jobs. If you don’t already have one of these, I highly recommend checking one out!