The start of a new year brings the opportunity to refocus your energy in lots of ways. As was pointed out last week, a great way to evolve is to focus on the things you want to do more of this year. For many, more home cooked meals, more get togethers with friends and family and more sanity in accomplishing these are worthy goals.
A great place to start off in an attempt to accomplish these goals is to become more organized in the kitchen. The French have a phrase for it, ‘mise-en-place’. It simply means ‘put in place’ and more accurate to cooking it means to have everything you need to put together an awesome meal out and at hand in an organized fashion BEFORE you start. If you take the time to prepare or set the stage so to speak, the process becomes way easier and you greatly reduce the margin for error because you have thought through the entire process at least once.
This process really helps with more technical recipes, but this learned habit will help if it’s just Monday veggie tacos or a full blown Sunday Dinner.
Here is a Mangia approved flow chart to help:
- Recipe: get it or them out and ready for reference if needed
- Ingredients: Spices out and available, all ingredients out and accounted for
- Tools: Utensils, pots/pans (nothing worse than being elbows deep in a recipe only to find needed pan dirty in dishwasher) Is the trash can out near prep area?
Cook: Method: Bake, Grill, Parboil, Steam, Deep Fry.
- Make sure grill is clean beforehand. Charcoal/propane ready
- Remember you treat the kitchen like a crime scene, clean as you go. You need to have serving dishes out and available so you can transfer finished items and clean hot pans while still hot. (Of course if the pan is nuclear meltdown hot you need to let it cool a little)
- As noted have all serving dishes/platters out and available. Serving spoons etc.
- Table set (job for the slackers)
Other things to consider as pointed out in this week’s Cooking Vamp:
- Remember that different foods require different cook times. Plan your process accordingly. Baked potatoes can be done in advance. Seafood cooks really fast, so leave it for last.
- Plan a week’s menu in advance and plan in leftover recipes.
Taking a little time before the endeavor of cooking for proper setup is a great habit to get into and the way a habit is formed is by doing something MORE.
We would love to hear from some of you Mangia Maniacs and your ‘mise-en-place’ habits.