Mise-en-place (pronounced [miz on plas]) is a French phrase which means "everything in place", as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that he or she expects to prepare during his/her shift.
Mise-en-place sounds all sorts of fancy but what it should sound like is the first step to success. Success with your time in the kitchen. Mise-en-place is not just for professional chefs and sous-chefs but everyone with a spatula in their hands.
Mise-en-place is simply put ~ getting ready to cook. Here is my take on mise-en-place, not a fancy certificate on the wall explanation but rather an everyday kitchen user's explanation.
- Clean your kitchen. A clean kitchen will afford you the luxury of moving around and finding items easily.
- Print out your recipe or set you cookbook up on a stand that makes it easy to read. Read through your recipe several times. Then read through it again until you have the major points stuck in your brain. Nothing in the recipe should come as a surprise to you as you are executing the recipe.
- Prepare all of your tools. Not only if the recipe says to prepare a pan but also if you need more than one bowl or a scraper... have these items handy or know right where they are before starting. Realizing that your 1/2 teaspoon measure is sitting in the dishwasher dirty when you need to add the baking soda to a waiting batter is just not conducive to an easy and stress-free time in the kitchen.
- Ready your appliances. Need a hand mixer? Take it out and find the beaters. Need to preheat your oven? Well turn it on. Locate your timer.
- Time to prepare your ingredients. Wash, chop, lay out, count... whatever the recipe says do. If your recipe calls for '1/2 cup walnuts, chopped' don't wait until you are supposed to incorporate the nuts to do the measuring and chopping. Instead measure, chop and put the nuts into a bowl and set it aside. Now they are ready for when called for in the recipe. No scrambling to get an ingredient ready at the last minute.
- Think you are ready now? Nope. Read your recipe once again, get yourself a nice glass of water and then wash your hands. Now you are ready to cook!