In depth ramblings about cooking, homekeeping, and whatever else I decide to write about.
I’ve been hearing the term mise en place being thrown out around there on cooking blogs and message boards lately. But, it’s a fancy chef’s term and not everyone knows what it means. Mise en place is a French term that means “putting in place.” In home cooks language, it means getting everything out and ready to go before you start cooking your dish. Everything gets chopped, measured, pre-heated and prepared before you start putting your dish together. You know on cooking shows how chefs have all of those little ramekins out with everything already measured? That is mise en place.
Professional chefs always use mise en place, but a lot of home cooks are really resistant to the concept. All many of us see are extra annoying little dishes to wash. But, in reality, mise en place makes the actual cooking of the dish much faster, smoother, and reduces the chance you’ll leave something out, or get right in the middle of putting it together and realize you are out of a key ingredient. It makes cooking a meal way less harried.
You really don’t have to use a lot of extra little dishes to do mise en place either. You can use paper towels and coffee filters for many ingredients. You can use a large plate with several ingredients on it instead of dirtying several smaller dishes. You can also keep common ingredients on a decorative small platter next to your stove with measuring tools at the ready. For example, I keep a nice looking salt pig next to the stove with a decorative measuring spoon in it. I do the same with my olive oil bottle (over time, you get really good at figuring out how much oil it takes to saute onions, etc…) and a couple of other common spices I use. I measure those directly into the pot instead of putting them in ramekins. But, they are there ready to go.
One other piece of advice I have. when I do mise en place, I think whether or not I will need the same ingredient at a later date. For example, last night, I knew I’d be using celery in tonight’s meal, so I chopped some extra and put it away for tonight. It was super fast, and it saves me time tonight. You can chop once and have ingredients ready for the whole week.