Succes in the kitchen always begins with preparation, When we cook the first thing we do is write a prep list that organizes the jobs that need to get done. It is always better to write these things down rather than try to keep it in our head. Once we have a prep list in hand, then we can go shopping for ingredients. However, the real work begins once we are back in the kitchen. When we cook, most of the labor goes into prep work rather than the actual cooking. This is the task of setting up your Mise en Place. Mastering the art of mise en place will do more for your cooking than any course can teach you.
Mise en place is a French culinary phrase which means “putting in place” or “everything in its place.” For the home cook, this is more than just pre-chopping and pre-measuring ingredients. True mise en place starts long before we actually touch food. It begins when we start to think about what it is we are going to cook. It’s calculating how much you need to cook for how many people you’re serving. It’s making sure you have all of your ingredients and equipment before you even think about picking up a knife and mentally walking through your recipe anticipating the steps before they happen.
Once we have done our mental prep work, making sure we have read the entire recipe before beginning to cook, we need to make sure all of our ingredients are prepped. This includes; washing, trimming, chopped, measured, sliced, diced, minced or whatever else needs to be done. This also includes pulling out all of the necessary equipment and setting it up properly and sharpening your knives. Everything should be within reach and laid out in order of when it is added to the recipe. We should have your tools and equipment ready as well – utensils within reach, small appliances assembled, pot holders and towels ready, oven preheated. And don’t forget to pull out your serving dishes and set your table. It’s all part of mise en place.
So what’s the point? Why go through all of this? All of this planning and prepping may seem like a lot of work but in most cases, it’s worth the time and effort. Mise en place will prevent you from getting halfway through a recipe only to find you’re missing one crucial ingredient. Have you ever burnt butter trying to measure flour for a roux? Have you ever added sugar instead of salt or vice versa? Mise en place helps to minimize the chance of this happening. Proper mise en place will also help reduce stress when entertaining or when attempting a more complex recipe.
Being prepared, being set up are the first steps to becoming a master home cook.
Do you take the time to properly prep before cooking? or do you prep as you go?