"I had learned the importance of mise en place, and I was careful not only to organize the ingredients and equipment I would need before starting a particular task but also to bring everything up to the same level in the actual "prepping" of the ingredients to be used. Given a recipe that called for, say, a dozen onions to be diced, the experienced prepper would first peel all the onions, then halve all of them, and then move on to dicing all of them. Such an approach is faster than peeling one onion, halving it, and then dicing it." (p. 33)
Mise en place is something I know I should do, but often I decide to cook up three recipes at once just to see how many dishes (and how much mess) I can make within an hour or so. For a person who loves organising, that’s a little bit surprising. I worry that if I figure out everything properly in advance, then get all my ingredients and implements ready to go, I might put myself off the whole idea and not actually get started! So I jump in before I can talk myself out of it.
Now that I’ve researched the topic further though, I’m sure it will make a difference in my cooking.
Here’s my summary of mise en place:
- Read through your recipe. If it’s a complicated or lengthy one, you might want to make a time plan.
- Make sure you have all your ingredients.
- Gather all your cooking implements.
- Prep all the ingredients—wash, dice, chop, etc—so they are up to a similar stage. You want to be able to start cooking and, like any TV chef, throw in your measured and prepared ingredients from their little dishes.
- Get yourself in the right frame of mind. Review your recipe once more, double-check you have everything, and think about how delicious the finished product will be and how much your fellow diners will love it!
Just like in a restaurant, mise en place can happen earlier in the day. If you have windows of opportunity (such as around breakfast or lunch), use it to prep some of your ingredients and perhaps even take care of the early cooking stages.
How do you organise the cooking process?