The Freshman Cook: Culinary Word of the Week-Mise en Place

What is Mise en Place? It is a french word that when translated means “to put in place”. What it means to cooking is often an organized, prepared kitchen that is a pleasure to work in, and a garden for creative ideas. If you utulize mise en place, you can prepare meals that come together in a calm manner, with no last minute frantic search through a crowded pantry, trying to find the elusive ingredient that you know you bought sometime last year,  month, week.      To me, true mise en place in the restaurant environment is when each station is prepped with the necessary ingredients to serve the breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal with ease. Everything needed should be with in reaching distance from the assigned station, and the ingredients should be ready to use. By that I mean that they should be diced, chopped, blanched, or whatever is necessary to minimize the cook time without sacrificing the taste or quality or your product. The best scenario is that the cook never has to leave the station. Once they leave, things can get hairy!!!      When you are cooking at home, mise en place is pretty much the same.  When you are planning on cooking something, look at your recipe and make sure you have all the ingredients. When you do, then look at your recipe again and see if there are some things that you can do ahead of time to make the dinner preparation less hectic. Often times, I will be cutting an onion for lunch or a sandwich, and knowing that I will be needing onion for an upcoming meal, I will go ahead and dice what I need while I have the onion out. I don’t do it too far ahead of time, just a little. Or, maybe you know you will be making deviled eggs later in the week. Go ahead and hard boil the eggs when, or if, you have some down time.      Another kind of mise en place I like to utilize is simply gathering all the necessary ingredients out on my counter before I begin cooking, baking, or even prepping. I put everything that is not needed away, so that the recipe ingredients have their own area. The reason is this: I have almost never made a recipe at home where I haven’t been interrupted at some point. It may be someone coming into the room, a phone call, someone wants to talk to me,  whatever it is, it breaks my concentration. ( Not real hard to do anyway!!)  As I am using the ingredients, I put them away, if at all possible. If it is not possible, I set them in a place away from the unused ingredients, so I know they have been used. Why? I once cooked in a BBQ restaurant where we smoked all kinds of meats. Some of the meats had rubs on them. One of the rub recipes had 14 different ingredients, almost all spices. They all looked alike when they were tossed in the bowl. If I was interrupted, and I usually was, I had no idea what I had put in last, or what was next. Putting the ingredients away as you use them, eliminates this problem. Also, the best part is, this leaves your kitchen less cluttered automatically. What a bonus!! So, try to incorporate mise en place into your cooking routine. It will be common place in no time, and you will be so glad you are using it.

Thanks for joining me today!

I hope you will come back tomorrow when 

we will have a menu and grocery list

for next week’s meal!

It’s the All American Meal !!

See you then!

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