Picture this: you’re trying a new and ambitious recipe, there are lots of ingredients required and they are all strewn about your kitchen, you’re sauteing the onion hoping to get the garlic chopped and coriander seeds crushed in time to add them before the onion gets too brown. Oh, and your hair is a mess, you have a sweaty upper lip and you forgot to put on your trusty apron.
Even when you know your way around the kitchen, it never hurts to rediscover basic cooking skills. Mise en place means “put in place” and is more than just an important cooking technique, it’s a way of life!
Now, imagine that you’re trying that same ambitious recipe. Every hair on your head is in place, your kitchen is orderly and efficient, and you navigate through the recipe’s instructions with ease, adding your prepared ingredients at exactly the right time. You know what to do next because you read the recipe in its entirety before you even preheated the oven.
The world’s best chefs, dedicated culinary students, and accomplished home cooks all swear by mise en place because it makes the cooking process go smoothly. To practice mise en place means to commit to the upfront time investment needed to make your cooking more relaxing, keep your kitchen orderly, and ultimately get the best results.
How to Practice Mise en Place:
- Read your recipe completely through. Be sure you understand all the steps and know how to do everything required.
- Take inventory of your fridge and your kitchen pantry. Make a shopping list with everything you’ll need for the recipe and shop for the ingredients.
- Take out all of the pots, pan, utensils and any special equipment you’ll need for your recipe.
- When you scan the recipe’s ingredient list, you’ll see things like “1 onion, finely chopped” or “4 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges.” Before you begin to cook, chop and prepare all of your fresh meats and produce. As you prepare them, place them into individual little bowls lined up in the order you’ll use them. Or, if the recipe groups ingredients together, you can put those ingredients together in a bowl. For instance, if you’ll be adding chopped garlic and a bunch of spices to a pot at the same time, you can put them together.
- Measure all of the spices and seasonings out ahead of time and put them into small bowls or ramekins so they’re ready to go.
- Once you’ve prepared, measured and organized all of your ingredients, you can begin cooking.
The best professional kitchens use mise en place religiously to help get numerous dishes out in an orderly and timely manner. The next time you visit a restaurant with an open kitchen, check out what’s going on back there. Even though the pace may be frenzied, the menu’s ingredients are likely organized and were prepared earlier in the day to make the kitchen run smoothly.
With the holidays approaching, you’ll be putting your kitchen to work making new recipes and trying to get everything timed properly. Take a cue from the pros – mise en place will ensure you get great results!