I’ve already pushed the importance of mise en place on this blog. Without it, preparing anything but the least complicated of dishes is an exercise in pulling out your hair.
I noted some of the great benefits the last time around–the ability to spot missing ingredients, for example, and freeing up ovens and burners for the actual cooking process down the road. I also noted the best tools for the job–small glass bowls that are inexpensive and easy to use.
It turns out that, while mise en place can be incredibly helpful, it can also be time-consuming and actually extend the cooking process (though still making it 100% easier). For example:
- You have to lay out all of the storage bowls and organize them on your counter.
- You prepare most ingredients separately whereas you might have thrown them together immediately in the past.
- You might actually take the time to prepare the more difficult ingredients instead of skipping over them.
Shortcuts for Mise en Place
Today, I offer you 10 simple shortcuts for making the most of your mise en place experience. They are 10 relatively easy ways to accelerate the process and put even more oomph in your cooking.
- Use identical sets of prep bowls. I use small and medium sizes, but keeping the bowls identical aids in storage, cleaning (in the dishwasher) and laying them out on your counter.
- Combine ingredients whenever possible that will end up being combined later, unless this would trigger any undesirable reactions.
- Prep the least-hardy vegetables last. Avocados, for example, oxidize very quickly if left out for too long. Leave any ingredients that spoil quickly for last.
- Split your prep between sessions. If your recipe calls for marinating your meat, for example, butchering and soaking the meat might be done in the morning, while the rest of your prep is done just before dinner. You can usually prepare stocks and sauces well ahead of time, too.
- Cross-check recipes, since ingredients often overlap between dishes. You don’t want to keep breaking out the same onion every time you flip the page.
- Keep your tools ready. Put things away in a state of readiness for their next use. Stopping to assemble kitchen equipment is disruptive to your cooking and will make everything take longer.
- Invest in a food processor. If you do a lot of chopping, dicing, and blending, and your knife skills are not very good, investing in a good food processor might be the time-saver you need to get everything prepped in time.
- Wash everything at once. Instead of stopping to wash things every so often, get everything in the sink at once–but be careful not to cross-contaminate things that shouldn’t mix.
- Leave meat for last. Sanitizing your work surfaces after meat takes a bit of effort, so you don’t want to do it mid-way through your prep work. Leave the meat for the last step in your work, and things will flow much smoother.
- Don’t forget to sing! You’re enjoying cooking, aren’t you? Put a smile on your face, and everything will go just a little bit quicker. Bon apetit!
Photo by Crystl