Mise en place ensures everything you need is at your fingertips
Mise en place describes the process of organisation and preparation before the actual cooking begins. It plays an important part in the creation of dishes with a perfect texture and consistency.
The term “mise en place” is French and means “to put in place”. In commercial kitchens, and some particularly organised domestic kitchens, it describes the practice of preparing all ingredients before cooking, getting any spices and oils ready and organising all the necessary cooking utensils. This practice ensures that the cooking process is smooth and uncomplicated. Taking time before cooking to plan and prepare the work surface and ingredients means that everything you need is at your immediate disposal, leaving you free to concentrate on precise cooking and adhering to the perfect cooking time.
The aim of mise en place is to prepare all the ingredients so nothing interrupts the actual cooking process. Ideally all the ingredients and utensils you may need should be ready and waiting before you start. Before cooking, read through the recipe to determine which ingredients and equipment you will need, where the individual items should stand and which pots and pans you can already leave on the stove, ready to cook the perfectly al dente pasta, crunchy vegetables or juicy meat.
The next step is to measure the necessary amounts of any liquids, weigh the dry ingredients and chop the required items. Only when everything is where it should be, and all the ingredients are ready to be cooked, do you switch on the oven or stove. By the way, preparing a stock can be part of mise en place just as much as sharpening your knives, however preparing the stock requires its own mise en place.
There are many good reasons to introduce mise en place as a practice in your own kitchen. Onions won’t burn as easily, as you won’t also be chopping up vegetables while trying to stir them, and you will never under or overcook your meat because of a hastily chosen wrong-sized pan. Ultimately, mise en place can even save you time as the cooking process is uninterrupted and no cooking times are exceeded. Plus, you won’t have to look for that specific utensil or chop up any ingredients in a hurry anymore.
Good organisation and preparation will turn your home kitchen into one of those well-oiled kitchens you see on cooking shows, where everything is ready and complicated dishes are prepared in the blink of an eye. Particularly before any holiday or big parties, when you may want to cook more impressive dishes than usual or serve a larger number of people, mise en place is the miracle solution
to chaos and overcooked food.
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