Why Every Home Cook Should Practice Mise En Place
When you watch cooking shows, you'll notice that the hosts have all of the ingredients ready to go. They're practicing mise en place. Mise en place is preparing all of your ingredients and equipment before you start cooking. It's a French term that means "putting everything in it's place" or "everything in place". If you read my latest recipes, you'll see that the first step in my list of directions is to prep the ingredients. That means if the ingredients list says you need sliced onion in a roast chicken recipe, then before you start searing the chicken, slice those onions. But, let's say one of the reasons you're not really into cooking is because you hate the prep work involved, dislike how long the process takes and the clean-up you have to do after. Well, I'm here to tell you that prep work is your friend, your ally, to making cooking easier. I get it, you want to be able to throw a bunch of ingredients together to make a nice dinner and be done with it. But, if you want to save time during the cooking process or don't want to accidentally burn your food because you forgot you needed a key ingredient and rush to get it, then you need to read this article. Here are three reasons why you need to prep your ingredients before you turn on the burners on the stove.
#1 - It Saves Time
Preparing everything saves time during the cooking process. So, once you start cooking, the only thing you have to do is add the ingredients according to the recipe. You're taking the guesswork out if you're missing a key ingredient. If you want to save even more time, prepare everything the day before. For instance, when I was made my One-Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables, I measured out everything the evening before and kept all of the contents in the fridge or freezer until I was ready to use them. It made making that dish easy, everything went smoothly and I didn't make any mistakes that would've ruined my meal. Which brings me to my next point...
#2 - You'll Minimize the Chances of Making a Mistake
When you prepare all of the ingredients of a dish, you lessen the chances of making a mistake. How many times have you started following a recipe only to realize you're missing a key ingredient and have to make a not-so-great substitute or have to scrap the dish all together? That's happened to me more times than I can count. Unless I have a proper substitute, then my meal is ruined and I have to turn it into something else. I've also had moments when I've burned certain ingredients because I was rushing to find others that I needed right away. This is especially frustrating when it comes to baking, which needs precise and accurate measurements in order to produce desired results. All of this extends the cooking time. I prefer the cooking process to be as smooth as possible. Also, when I'm rushing because I don't have ingredients ready to go, I always, always, end up making a big mess.
Which brings me to my third and final point...
#3 - It Makes Clean Up Easier
When I'm done cooking and eating, the last thing I do is clean up a bunch of dishes at once. I'm usually tired, my feet probably hurt and the only thing I want to do is relax. When I prep, it makes it a lot easier for me to minimize the amount of kitchenware I'd get dirty.
In a restaurant I used to work, the managers always stressed this phrase -- clean as you go. At first, it took some time to get used to because we were preparing for an opening and were training to serve, stock, and clean in a timely manner to promote efficiency. Cleaning as we completed our other duties was a lifesaver. It was much easier to transition to the afternoon or evening shift or close up shop when we got a head start on cleaning and stocking dishes. On the nights we didn't, especially if I was working the closing shift? That would've resulted in a close taking an hour longer than usual.
The same applies to your own kitchen. As you complete each step of the recipe and use each prepped ingredient, clean those dishes in between recipe steps. Or, you can make sure your dishwasher and ready to accept dirty dishes. By the time you're ready to serve, your counters are cleared and you don't have to worry about a lot of clean up.
Now go and practice mise en place!
Like any other habit, mise en place is a habit you'll have to develop over time. It may be difficult, but it will be well worth it in the end. You will be less stressed and happy when you're finished cooking your meal with few to zero mistakes, little clean up and with a little extra time on your hands to truly enjoy your meal.