Kitchen Tip: Mise en Place

Food, How-To

All the Ingredients for a Thanksgiving Roast Turkey

I’m going to be up front with you here.

Most of the time, when I’m finished cooking, my kitchen looks slightly as though it’s been ransacked.

When I try to clean as I go, I get distracted from the actual cooking and when that happens, things get burned, abandoned, forgotten or neglected. The majority of my culinary mistakes happened because I just wasn’t paying a bit of attention.

Enter, the mise en place.

Mis en place is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as “everything in place,” or set up. Think of your favorite food show: you’ve never seen Paula Deen scrambling to find the pepper while her onions sizzle away on the stove. She has her ingredients organized, measured and prepared before she gets started. Now, let’s ignore the fact that an intern probably does it for her and concentrate on the task at hand.

Having your mis en place before cooking means that your ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped, and placed in individual bowls. You have all of the equipment you need, such as spatulas and bowls, within arm’s reach. Your ovens are preheated and your trash receptacle is at the ready.

Preparing the mise en place ahead of time lets the chef (you!) cook without having to stop and assemble items. It may seem like you’re spending more time in the kitchen but in the long haul, you’re actually saving time.

How to Mise en Place:

Measure out your ingredients into small bowls or measuring cups. I like the Le Creuset Silicone Prep Bowls and Anthropologie always has super cute options, too.

Clear away any trash, such as egg shells, spilled flour or empty wrappers once you’ve measured and your ingredients are ready to go. Wash or load the dishwasher with the measuring cups or spoons you used to prepare your mis en place.

Assemble your mis en place on a tray – in the event of spills, drips or drops, you’ll only have to clean one surface instead of your entire countertop and floor.

Keep your mis en place together. It sounds intuitive, but if you have all of your ingredients located in one place before you begin your recipe, you’ll save a ton of time.

How do you prepare your ingredients or cooking space before you begin a recipe?

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17 Comments

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Monet
    January 29, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I started doing this about 5 months ago, and it makes cooking/baking so much more enjoyable! Thank you for sharing your tips/idea with me. I hope you have a Saturday full of relaxation and laughter! We all need it!

  • Reply
    LimeCake
    January 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    As long as my counter is relatively cleared, I don’t really cook or bake with everything laid out neatly in bowls. I’m a disorganised cook and baker. LOL

  • Reply
    Joanne
    January 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    This is definitely what I need in my life. I so often forget ingredients just cause of sheer distraction from trying to clean one thing in the middle of a step. Sigh. Patience.

  • Reply
    leslie
    January 28, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Yep..I agree. Total timesaver.

  • Reply
    ashley@quasichick
    January 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Sometimes I do this and sometimes I don’t, but when I do I notice how much more smoothly my cooking goes…great post 🙂

  • Reply
    NJS
    January 28, 2011 at 1:33 am

    I’d totally do this if someone else washed my dishes 😉

  • Reply
    jenna laughs
    January 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I’m super OCD, so this post is right up my alley. Also a fan of mise en place. And your little green bowls 🙂

  • Reply
    Heidi Renée
    January 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I don’t measure things out ahead of time because I don’t want to dirty more dishes than necessary, but I try to at least get out what I’m going to need.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    January 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    This takes some practice to perfect, but it really makes a big difference! I started prepping all my ingredients ahead a few years ago and it not only makes the cooking go smoother and quicker, but clean up seems to take less time. It’s such a habit for me now that I will inevitably forget ingredients if I don’t cook this way.

  • Reply
    karin van D.
    January 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I always measure and cut like this beforehand. If I don’t, I’ll end up in chaos.. Maybe the food will still be ok, but I’ll be a mess myself *grin*

  • Reply
    The Food Hunter
    January 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Who knew I was French all along 😉

  • Reply
    Daryl
    January 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Such a good idea for me. Inevitably I always forget to add at least one ingredient when I cook. This wii solve that problem

  • Reply
    Dorothy @ Belle of the Kitchen
    January 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    My cooking is definitely calmer and easier when I do this! I also find it beneficial to have the sink ready with a tub of soapy water to receive empty bowls and dirty utencils.

  • Reply
    Eliz@The Sweet Life
    January 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Really great idea…in theory! I’m more of a rush-around-the-kitchen-and-throw-it-together kind of person but your photo is lovely!

  • Reply
    Kate
    January 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I’m awful at this, but its definitely something I want to get better about.

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