Everything in its Place ~ Mis en Place
The French term mis en place (pronounced MEEZ ahn plahs) comes from professional kitchens and refers to the process of getting everything ready to cook. Home cooks can take a page from the pros here because, although it takes time to prepare your ingredients to be cooked, it will speed up the cooking process enormously.
First you need to gather all the ingredients you will need for a dish – this is when you find out if you need to make a mad dash to the store! Chop the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, etc. as needed. Put the ones that will color in cold water. Fresh mushrooms tend to go brown if chopped too far in advance but you could stem them and clean them if necessary. Make or measure out the stock you will need. Chop fresh herbs and measure out any dried herbs and spices. Measure the butter and squeeze lemons and grate zest as needed.
Be sure to read through the recipe to make sure there are no surprises and do as much prep as possible before you actually start cooking. Invest in a half a dozen inexpensive white ramekins to hold the chopped herbs, onions etc.
Once all the mis en place is done you will find that you are much more relaxed and confident about cooking because you have already done a dry run so to speak.
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