… Mise En Place
What is Mise En Place Really?
The biggest difference between Michelin star restaurants and home cooking comes down to one thing, organization. The French call it “Mise en Place”, meaning ‘everything in its place” or in layman’s terms getting your shit together.
Maybe your cooking looks like this:
- Put oil in a cold pan.
2) Start dicing garlic to put in pan.
3) 5 minutes later put garlic into a searing pan, it burns immediately.
4) Pull chicken from fridge and begin to cube.
5) Add cold chicken to burnt garlic.
6) When chicken is cooked through the garlic is now mere specks of bitter, burnt volcanic filament.
Now consider, you had the garlic diced, the chicken cubed at room temp, the pan preheated. In with the oil, stir in the garlic to get the flavors going, in with the chicken. Boom tender chicken covered in wonderfully sweet garlic in less total time than the catastrophe above. That is mis en place.
Now compound that difference over 10 or even 5 steps and like investing for retirement, you begin to understand the importance of thinking ahead.
Mis en Place Rule #1 — It’s Actually faster
It takes less time to do all dicing, chopping organizing and then cook as it does to multitask during cooking. There is an illusion prepping as you go is faster, it’s not and the food will turn out worse.
Mis en Place Rule #2 — Deli Containers Are Your Friend
Professional kitchens are full of simple plastic deli containers with prepped ingredients. They are re-usable, keep things separate and any extra diced onion you can pop the lid on and tuck in the fridge.
Mis en Place #3 —Get To The Boiling Point
Nothing will jack up your momentum like having to wait for a pot of water to boil, don’t take it from us, take it from someone smarter:
“When you get into the kitchen, set a pot of water to boil. You’ll use it for something.“
— Mark Bittman, author of How To Cook Everything
Mis en Place #4 — Make It Enjoyable
Exam prep, meal prep, prepping documents, prep is genuinely associated with a bad time. Counteract this by throwing on an audiobook or an Otis Redding album, cracking a beer or calling your mom on speaker phone. Best of all, prep with someone, you know why cooks can stand on their feet for 15 hours a day and peel grapes? They are not alone.
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