Mise En Place (meez ahn plahs) means “to put in place” or “everything in its place.” The concept of mise en place is: A cook should have at hand everything he or she needs to prepare and serve food in an organized and efficient manner. A proper mise en place requires the cook to consider work patterns, tools and equipment, and ingredient lists.
Coordination of multiple tasks is important. An organize cook will think about the most efficient way to complete tasks before beginning the work.
Selecting Tools and Equipment
-All tools, equipment and work surfaces must be clean.
-Knives should be honed and sharpened.
– Ovens and cooking surfaces should be preheated.
– Measuring devices should be checked for accuracy.
– Mixing bowls, saucepans, and storage containers should be the correct size for the task at hand.
– Foods should be gathered and stored at the proper temperatures.
– Serving plates, cookware, utensils, and handtools should be nearby.
– Expiration dates should be checked.
– Sanitizing solution, gloves, trash receptacles, and hand towels should be nearby.
Some ingredients that are used frequently are often prepared in large quantities.
Whole butter can be used for cooking, but sometimes a more consistent product will be acheived by using butter that has had the water and milk solids removed by a process called clarification.
Procedure For Clarifying Butter:
- Warm the butter in a saucepan over low heat without boiling. As the butter melts, the milk solids rise to the top as a foam and the water sinks to the bottom.
- Skim the milk solids from the top when the butter is completely melted.
- When all the milk solids have been removed, ladle the butterfat into a clean saucepan. Leave the water in the bottom of the pan.
- The clarified butter is now ready.
Ghee – A form of clarified butter in which the milk solids remain with the fat and are allowed to brown.
Toasting Nuts and Spices
Nuts are often toasted lightly before being used. Whole spices are sometimes toasted before being ground for a sauce or used as a garnish. Toasting brings out its flavor and makes it crispier. Whether toasting nuts or spices, they should be watched carefully to avoid burning.
Making Bread Crumbs
Fresh bread crumbs are made from fresh bread that is slightly dried out. If the bread is too fresh, the crumbs will be gummy. If the bread is too stale, the crumbs will be stale as well. Dry bread crumbs are made from bread that has been lightly toasted.
To make bread crumbs, the bread is torn into pieces and ground in a food processor. After processing, the crumbs should be passed through a sieve and stored in a tightly closed storage container. Dried herbs and spices can be mixed into the crumbs for flavor.
Foods are often flavored with spices or herbs, rubs or marinades before they are cooked. This may require the cook to prepare various mixtures ahead of time.
Bouquet Garni and Sachet
A bouquet garni and sachet are used to introduce favorings, seasonings, and aromatics into sauces, soups, stews, and stocks.
A bouquet garni is herbs and vegetables tied into a bundle. A standard bouquet garni consists of celery, leeks, carrots, thyme, and parsley.
A sachet is a cheesecloth filled with seasonings and tied together. A standard sachet consists of bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, cloves, parsley stems, and garlic.
An oignon pique is less commonly used to extract flavors. To prepare an oignon pique, peel the onion and trim off the root end. Attach one or two dred bay leaves to the onion using whold cloves as pins. Simmer in milk or stock to extract flavors.
Marinating is the soaking of meat or poultry in a seasoned liquid to tenderize and flavor it. Marinades can be a simple blend of seasonings, herbs, and oil. Marinades can be a complicated blend of fruit, red wine, and other ingredients. Mild marinades should be used on meats such veal. Strong marinades should be used on game and beef. White wine marinades are usually used for white meats and poultry, and red wine marinades are used for red meats.
When marinating, be sure to cover the item completely and keep it refrigerated. Stir or turn frequently so the marinade can penetrate evenly.
Rubs and Pastes
Additional flavors can be added by rubbing meats with fresh or dried herbs and spices. The flavoring blend, called a rub, can be used dried, or it can mixed with a little oil, lemon juice, fresh garlic or ginger, or prepared mustard. This makes a paste or a wet rub. Rubs add flavor and a crispy crust.
Steeping is the process of soaking dry ingredients in a liquid to soften the food or to infuse its flavor into the liquid. Coffee beans, spices, and nuts are usually steeped in hot milk to extract their flavors. The milk is then used to flavor other foods.
Steeping is also used for rehydrating dried fruits and vegetables such as mushrooms and raisins. Usually the liquid with be discarded and the fruits and vegetables will be used in a recipe. Additional flavors such as spirits, wine, stock or other liquids can be added .
Preparing To Cook
Breading and Battering Foods
A breaded item is any food coating with a dry meal during cooking. These may include bread crumbs, cracker meal, cornmeal, or other. Breaded foods usually cooked by deep-frying or pan-frying.
A three step process is used for the standard breading procedure:
- Pat the food dry and dredge it in flour.
- Dip the floured food in an egg wash. The egg wash should contain whole eggs and should contain 1 tablespoon of milk or water per egg.
- Coat the food with bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or other dry meal. Do not stack items on top of each other.
Batters consist of liquids such as milk, beer, or water combined with flour or cornstarch. These items are usually deep-fryed or pan-fryed.
Procedure for battering foods:
- Prepare the batter.
- Pat the food dry and dredge in flour.
- Dip the item in the batter and place it in the hot fat.
Blanching and Parboiling
Blanching – Very briefly and partially cooking a food in boiling water or hot fat; used to assist in preparation as part of a combination cooking method or to remove undesirable flavors.
Parboiling – Partially cooking food in boiling or simmering liquid; similar to blanching but the cooking time is longer.
Parcooking – Partially cooking a food by andy cooking method.
Shocking – Also called refreshing; the technique of quickly chilling blanched or parcooked foods in ice water; prevents further cooking and sets colors.
Making an Ice Bath
Because of the risk of food-borne illness, it is important to cool hot foods quickly before refrigerating them. An ice bath is an easy way to do this. An ice bath is also important for shocking or refreshing blanched or parcooked vegetables and for stopping the cooking of delicate mixtures such as custards.
An ice bath is simply a container of ice cubes and cold water. The item will cool faster if it is in a metal container, rather than one made of glass or plastic.