Friday, February 4, 2011

Foodie Vocabulary: Mise en Place

Mise en Place (pronounced meez ahn plahs) is a french culinary term for "everything in its place".  A  culinary technique of sorts used in professional restaurants and kitchens where efficiency and time management are essential, it should also be embraced in the kitchens of home cooks alike.

At the heart, mise en place involves organizing and preparing ingredients, tools and whatever essentials are used to prepare a dish or meal.   From pre-measuring and setting aside ingredients, to preheating an oven, to making sure all needed utensils, appliances, etc., are clean and ready for use, to reading a recipe through from start to finish to make sure nothing is overlooked--and everything in between--mise en place brings an order and reliability to the cooking process that is worthwhile.  I like to think of it as an investment of pre-labor that will yield the dividends of a successful--and enjoyable--cooking experience. 

Example of Mise en Place
I know first hand how valuable mise en place is because I've experienced, among other things, the upset of omitting an ingredient as I went along in preparing a dish.  In particular, once when baking a cake, I sifted together all of my dry ingredients EXCEPT one:  the salt!  Although most wouldn't notice the overly sweet end result, I missed that extra balance and brightness of flavor that my cake lacked from that error.  And you better believe I didn't make that mistake twice. 

So the next time you set out to prepare a delicious bite, take a moment to make sure that "everything's in its place" and let the joy of cooking begin.

Happy Eating! 


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