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Mise en place


weinoo
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Mise isn't just having chopped garlic ready in a ramekin -- for me it's mostly a state of mind. I mentally go over all the steps, visualizing what needs to be done and what it's going to look like when finished. Only then do I lay my ingredients out and start cooking.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I'm not allowed to properly mise at home. The arrangement in my house is that I cook and my wife cleans up after the meal. If she has 6 to 10 ramekins to deal with on top of the other plates, pans, etc..., she will literally lose it on me.

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I always lay out a mise en place on the cutting board though I'll use small bowls for things like spices, wet ingredients etc.

My main cutting board is about four feet wide so I can chop and push things to the side and keep working on it. Plus with things on the side I can sneak a piece of something here and there.

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I predominantly fall into the lazy catagory and grab things together while the cooking progresses.

I think you've got it precisely right. The home cook is not making the same dish 15 times over the course of a night, or 5 similar ones simultaneously. We don't need to use 50% of our counter space and 25% of our clean dishes for prep. What are you going to do while the turkey breasts brown? Stand there and gaze approvingly at your mise en place, or string your green beans a la minute, when you need them.

Do it the other way, and you've spent the hour before you are ready to work, decanting slicing and dicing. Then when it's time to cook, the turkey breasts will not be so impressed that they cook any faster for you. You'll stand there for another 45 minutes, waiting for your food to cook.

There is a lot of noise about how the home cook (or private chef even) is not up to the standards of the restaurant chef, because we are sloppy about mise en place, but don't let them fool you. A million home cooks have done it this way for a thousand years because it works.

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What drives me mad about many tv cooking shows aimed at 'everyday cooks' is how they always have mise en place all nicely done, no chopping mess or measuring fuss while they bray about the glorious simplicity of whichever bit of corporate sponsored food dreck they are serving up. We all know the reality is so much messier! Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals has been showing here recently, and it's been a pleasure to see him do the prep and measure things out as he goes. That seems much more like the way most people cook on a regular basis.

Like many here I do a modified prep which alters depending on what kind of dish I'm making.

With cakes and biscuits I usually do a dry bowl for sifting the dry ingredients together, and a jug for the liquid (especially where they are to be added in alternating batches) before I start mixing. This helps me ensure I don't forget to add things like the leaveners (it's happened!) and makes me feel in control, as I'm not a very confident baker. Like others I do the prep for a stir fry type dish in advance, starting with the veg and finishing with the meat so as to only use one board and knife (laziness!). Otherwise I usually do things as I go, maybe taking advantage of a particular stage of the dish to finish off most of the prep (like while browning meat, for example). That said, I generally do a quick check of the cupboards and haul most of my ingredients out in advance - I too have started making something only to find I was out of the key ingredient!

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My kitchen is REALLY small, as befits a hobbit or someone living in a shoebox-sized studio in Manhattan, depending on your point of view. :wink:

A mise en place is absolutely necessary.

Same here. Small kitchen (which I like), and it's too crazy trying to do things on the fly trying to keep up with what's on the stove without mise.

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I don't do a real mise en place unless I'm doing a multi ingredient recipe where I have to chop and prepare a lot of vegetables and herbs for say something like a Thai curry.

For most baking i do take the step of setting out my jars of sugar, flour, vanilla, eggs etc. to make sure I don't forget any of the ingredients in my baking project.

My most consistent mise en place is my spices which I always have at the ready by the stove. Current favorites include: Smoked paprika, Long pepper, Smoked salt, Kosher salt, regular black pepper in grinder and Turkish Urfa pepper (sweet smokey dried pepper flakes)

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Mise en place, for when the family is eating at my house(about 25 people). Prep when I'm cooking for less than six. I try to cut on one board. I use bowls and if something can be combined together in a bowl I'll do that, or re-use veggie or "clean" bowl for later stuff. Sometimes I put onions in three recipes, I cut once and use one bowl until onions run out.

I like to make sure I have everything I need. Last Christmas I bought a little can of baking soda(so I wouldn't have five year old baking soda sitting around.) This spring I couldn't find that damn little can anywhere. I knew that I didn't have the baking soda, because I prepped before I started cutting the butter in the flour for my buttermilk biscuits. Unfortunately, by time I remembered to buy more baking soda(big can this time) the buttermilk had gone bad. So it's mise en place(or prep) all the way for me. :wink:

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