The French culinary term “mise en place” (pronounced [miz on plas]), literally means “set in place”. Chefs all around the world apply this by preparing things in advance. Restaurants benefit from applying mise en place so that they may serve food faster and easier to their customers. In addition advanced preparation of produce helps to extend the shelf life. Read further to learn how this can be applied to save you time and money.
If you were to peel and refrigerate fruits and vegetables in advance, this adds shelf-life to food products, preventing spoiling, saving you money in the long run. In addition, if you chop them, say over a weekend, and have them ready for weeknight meals this will save you time.
Mis en place may also be applied to ingredients for a recipe. As you may already know, there are many more ingredients in gluten free baked goods compared to glutenous ones, therefore, there is an increased risk of making errors. Chefs always gather and prepare all of the ingredients for a recipe in advance, before they begin to put a recipe together. This means having everything chopped, measured, melted, etc. If an ingredient such as oil is used in preheating in a skillet, one would simply place the bottle of oil on the counter along with the other ingredients. This step not only speeds up the process of cooking and baking, but prevents errors.
Have you ever measured flour when adding it to a bowl, for say a gluten free cake, muffin or bread, to realize you have forgotten how much you have added? If you had mise en place, in place, you would be able to remeasure without wasting other ingredients already added to the bowl. Or perhaps you have experienced this and continued, not knowing if your recipe will turn out well. Applying mise en place, here, may save you time, money, and a faulty recipe.
I not only apply mise en place to baking, but to cooking. Any time I have to chop onion, celery, peppers, etc., I do it on a larger scale than needed. Then I store what I do not need in mason jars, in the refrigerator. For ingredients that brown easily, such avocados, you can just add an acidic ingredient such as lemon or vinegar to them before refrigerating.
I am always looking for shortcuts, and absolutely hate the chore of washing my food processor often. Chopping larger quantities of vegetables in advance definitely save times on dish washing. However, other times I like to do my chopping by hand, especially if I have guests. This provides even pieces, and is the only way to dice a vegetable. When chopping by hand, mise en place, does not save you time immediately, but definitely makes meal preparing faster and more efficient.
Advance preparation also saves that dreaded realization that you’re out of an ingredient mid recipe, or that you forgot to defrost something. Printing out a recipe and checking each ingredient off, also is very helpful in preventing errors.
Food ingredients are not the only part of mise en place. Gathering all of the pans and utensils needed for your recipe are also a part of it. Baking pans, whisks, measuring spoons and more laid out in advance makes cooking or baking more efficient.
When I’m in hurry and do not have time for mise en place I have a different trick I use. Example: Gluten free bread baking – I take the bottle of oil and in front of it add a 1/4 cup measuring cup; bottle of apple cider vinegar, add 1 teaspoon in front of it; container of yeast, add 1 measuring teaspoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoon (knowing I need 2 1/4 teaspoons) in front of it, etc.
The one step I do save for last, though, that many recipes have you do in advance is greasing pans. I find that the oil placed on the sides of pans tend to drip down to the bottom of the pan by the time you’re ready to add your batter, or whatever you’re adding, leaving the sides of the pan dry. Who wants a baked good to stick to the sides of the pan. That makes more work when you have to scrape the sides of the pan to loosen your creation.
Another example of early preparation is the night before you plan on making something, lay the ingredients and cooking tools on your kitchen counter. It is not recommended, however, that eggs be left out overnight once refrigerated. When you need room temperature eggs, set them out no more than 2 hours in advance. Anything you can do safely in advance surely makes cooking less of a chore the next day, when other things may need your attention.
Mise en place really is life changing in the kitchen. It may take some practice, but once you get the hang of it, your cooking experience will never be the same again!