Basic Technique: Mise en Place

It can seem fussy and a tad neurotic, but without a doubt, a good mise en place will make you a better and more efficient cook! It's one of the first lessons taught to new chefs in culinary school, and there's a reason for it...

Mise en place literally means "set in place," and it refers to having all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. Onions are diced, spices are measured, broth has been portioned. And it's not a bad idea to have your pans and ladles laid out, too!

Taking the time to do all of this upfront actually ends up saving you time in the long run. With everything laid out in front of you, you're more organized and efficient. Your whole cooking process becomes streamlined. You're far less likely to do something like accidentally adding the salt twice and you're not scrambling to find an ingredient in the back of the cupboard right when it's needed.

This works for professional chefs and home cooks, too! These days, we often just combine ingredients that are going to be cooked together when doing a simple weeknight recipe - all the spices in one ramekin, onions and celery together in another bowl. But for unfamiliar or complicated recipes, we still go the whole nine yards and cover our counter top with little bowls of ingredients.

Do you lay out a mise en place as a home cook?

Related: How to Avoid Wasting Food

(Image: Flickr member wickenden licensed under Creative Commons)

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