Mise En Place
Do you love to entertain but find it completely overwhelming? Do you wish you could be more organized in the kitchen but have no idea where to start. Here’s how the professionals do it…
What is it?
Mise en place (MEEZ anh plahs) is a French cooking term which, when loosely translated means to have everything in it’s place.
What does it mean?
The preparation of all ingredients for a recipe before any cooking takes place. This includes measuring as well as any ingredient preparation such as chopping or dicing.
When is it used?
The most common example of this technique is on television cooking shows where you will see a television chef or personality preparing a dish and all of the ingredients have been measured and prepared for them and then placed in bowls and containers ready to use.
Restaurants have a slightly different application of this technique. They have designated stations where particular dishes are prepared. Every day before the restaurant opens, each station is organized for the dishes they will be preparing for that evening including all ingredients and utensils.
It has gained increasing popularity with home cooks who regularly entertain, generally in situations where they are preparing complicated dishes or if they are preparing last minute dishes in the presence of dinner guests.
When and why should you try this technique?
- When you are preparing complicated or unfamiliar recipes.
- When the recipe calls for ingredients to be prepared such as roasting nuts.
- When you are cooking dishes that need to be served immediately.
- When you are preparing dishes that require considerable labor or concentration.
- Preparing all ingredients beforehand eliminates missing a key ingredient.
- It limits stress when entertaining.
- It helps eliminate “performance anxiety” when cooking in front of others because you look like you know what you are doing even if you don’t.
- It helps reduce the amount of clutter to deal with on counters and reduces needless trips to the pantry or food storage areas.
- Most of all, it allows you to focus on the cooking, and ultimately enables you to enjoy the process of cooking more.
How do you do it?
- Read through the recipe from start to finish so that you understand the ingredients, what order things need to happen and any special preparation.
- Measure out ingredients and place into containers. A variety of small bowls are useful.
- As you measure, make sure you do any preparation steps for the ingredients such as chopping.
- Group ingredients on a tray or a designated area on your counter top for that particular recipe. If you are preparing several recipes make sure that you have the ingredients grouped per recipe otherwise you may get confused.