One of the most important lessons I learned early in my cooking journey was the idea of Mise en Place. Of course, I didn’t know the term at the time, but more of the general concept behind it. But once I started regularly following this I saw a vast improvement in my cooking.
Mise en Place is pronounced Meez ahn plahs and is a French term that translates to “put in place.” It means to have all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, etc. before you start cooking. But it’s not only the ingredients, but it also considers having all of your pans, bowls, tools, and any other necessary equipment. Basically, have everything out and measured and ready so you can prepare your recipe seamlessly.
So why should we practice the Mise en Place technique?
- Missing Ingredients
When you get all of the ingredients out and ready before you start cooking, you can quickly and easily spot anything you are missing. It gives you time to either find a substitute or run to the store or a neighbor’s to get what you need. You may also have less of an ingredient than you originally thought, and it again gives you time to figure it out.
2. Ingredient Prep
Often a recipe will have special preparation directions in the ingredients list which can be overlooked easily. But if you are getting all of your ingredients prepped ahead of time, you can catch these small directions which might hold you up later. For example, if some of the ingredients need to be at room temperature or melted or toasted, you can do that before you start cooking. Some recipes have to be handled quickly, or constantly stirred, meaning you won’t have time to take care of these while cooking.
3. Prepare the Recipe
When you have all of your ingredients prepped and measured, you can set them up in an assembly line of sorts to make the meal prep quicker and easier. Line up the ingredients in the order they will be used, and it will also ensure that you don’t miss a step. As you are doing this, you can also get an idea of how long each step is going to take so you know when you need to start different aspects of the recipe to have it done at the correct time.
4. Complicated Recipes become Easier
Sometimes, when you look at a recipe, it can seem a bit overwhelming. But if you can break it down into sections, and get yourself prepared, the recipe becomes more manageable. By having your ingredients and tools ready to go, you are cutting down on a lot of the work that has to be done during the meal prep. There’s a reason that a recipe is written with instructions broken down by numbers so that you can take it one step at a time.
Mise en Place helps cooks and chefs at every level. If you ever watch a cooking show, they always get their ingredients ready, measured, cut, peeled, chopped, and prepared in whatever way possible before they even start cooking. The oven is preheated, and the oil is warmed before using. In other words, everything is ready before they start cooking. For some reason, it seems that those starting out on their cooking journey seem to overlook this simple concept, but it can make a huge difference in the outcome of the recipe.
Of course, Mise en Place won’t teach you how to cook or prevent you from burning the cookies, but it will help keep you organized as you are working on a new recipe. So let me know, do you get all of your ingredients and utensils ready before you start cooking or do you just dive into a recipe and hope for the best?