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Mise en place? Or not?

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Robin Garr

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Mise en place? Or not?

by Robin Garr » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:11 pm

I'm running late and can't post the whole recipe and discussion right now, but for this crew, the basic question should be enough to get us started:

So, tell me, when you're cooking a dish with more than two or three ingredients to keep track of, do you do a mise en place? Why or why not?
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Carl Eppig

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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Carl Eppig » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:05 am

I get all the ingredients out to be sure I have them. Then make substitutions is necessary and appropriate. Then make sure each mise is ready to go into the pot, and chop and mince as necessary. Then I proceed.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Rahsaan » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:14 am

Robin Garr wrote:I'm running late and can't post the whole recipe and discussion right now, but for this crew, the basic question should be enough to get us started:

So, tell me, when you're cooking a dish with more than two or three ingredients to keep track of, do you do a mise en place? Why or why not?


I often do whatever is most efficient, i.e. cutting and prepping first what needs to cook the longest and then moving on to other components of the meal that need less cooking. Efficiency is key when you have a hungry 2 year old but you still enjoy semi-elaborate homemade meals like I do!

I often compare the process to a military operation, because it requires careful planning and execution. For whatever reason my wife is not as organized and when she cooks its usually much less efficient and much more chaotic.
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Doug Surplus

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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Doug Surplus » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:37 am

It depends. I usually will do this for a stir fry so that each ingredient is ready to go in the pan at the correct time, and that I have the desired amounts of each.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Tom NJ » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:51 am

I do if I follow a recipe. I don't if I'm cooking ad lib, as I often change direction as I go along.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Jon Peterson » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:11 am

I don't generally mise en place because I'm just not that organized. I have only done so with dishes that are complicated and that I have done before because before I prepare it the first time, I don't realize how complicated it is, I guess. (Or I'm in denial.)
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Mike Filigenzi » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:47 am

I almost always do the mise en place thing. It's something I've evolved into over the years as it makes it less likely that I'll forget to put something into a dish or that something gets overcooked while I chop something else.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Dale Williams » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:23 am

I'm like Doug, I am likely to set up and prep if there are a lot of time critical steps, like with a stirfry. With other stuff I just eyeball to make sure I have everything, then take out as I go.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Paul Winalski » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:30 am

I tend to do mise en place automatically, since I got my start in cooking with Chinese stir-frying, where it's mandatory.

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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Karen/NoCA » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:37 am

Everyday that I cook dinner. I do all my dinner prep in the mornings, first thing. Veggies are chopped, covered and put in fridge on a prep board. Meats, poultry, seafoods are marinated, rubbed, what ever is needed and put in fridge. If I am braising something I do it in the morning, get it browned, and put into the Dutch Oven and into the fridge. Salads are made in the morning too, covered and in the fridge, as well. Salad dressing is also made. I really dislike cooking in the afternoons and rarely have too.

I also cut the herbs from the garden and put into water. Spices are also brought out and put near the stove. Any chicken or beef stock is taken from the freezer and put out to thaw. If the dish is not going to be made better by the use of homemade stock, I use a commercial product that is usually already open and in the fridge.

It is the only way I know how to cook, and the only way I am happy with. I get up early and love the cool mornings and a being in the kitchen by myself. I open all the windows in the house and sliding doors, turn on my favorite radio station and get to work.....birds come to the feeders and baths just outside my kitchen window, I see neighbors out walking their dogs, and the world is all good! :D
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Mark Lipton » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:14 pm

Piling on, when timing is critical I do (not just stir fries, but they certainly qualify) but if I'm improvising or doing something that cooks slowly, I'll just get my ingredients out ahead of time.

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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by wnissen » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:03 pm

Rahsaan wrote:I often do whatever is most efficient, i.e. cutting and prepping first what needs to cook the longest and then moving on to other components of the meal that need less cooking. Efficiency is key when you have a hungry 2 year old but you still enjoy semi-elaborate homemade meals like I do!

I often compare the process to a military operation, because it requires careful planning and execution. For whatever reason my wife is not as organized and when she cooks its usually much less efficient and much more chaotic.

I don't know if it's my project management training, but this is exactly what I do. Call it "critical path" prep. Actually, since we're cooking, it should be «la chemin critique».

If I know that, for instance, the chicken is going to need to marinate, grill, and rest, I don't even get my other ingredients out ahead of time. I just get going on the chicken until the carrots will be the limiting item. So the overall series of tasks is: marinate chicken, put water on to boil for carrots, turn on grill, peel carrots, put chicken on grill, start carrots, get out plates and glasses, flip chicken, take chicken off, drain carrots, and serve. Typically everything is ready to serve at the same time.

True, if ingredients are missing or spoiled, I might not find out until the meal is underway, and sometimes I misjudge the timing of the various tasks and end up with dishes being ready at different times. On the whole, it is much more efficient when one gets home at, say, 6 and dinner needs to be on the table in 45 minutes. It took a lot of practice to get to the point where I could plan in my head, though!

If I didn't have to work outside the home, I can definitely see the virtues of the mise en place, and obviously in a restaurant it is essential, but I like my system.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Jenise » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:14 pm

What Rahsaan said.

I am by nature a multi-tasker, and by profession trained to identify and address long-lead time items and milestones at the outset of Any project or set of projects which in fact most meals are. Timing comes easily to me, and I can pull off multiple dishes and serve them all simultaneously hot and ready--something not everyone seems built to do. So where I believe in the concept of mis en place and practice it regularly, it's not necessary to everything I do. If I'm making a spaghetti sauce, say, it's generally the better use of my time to dice and start sauteeing onions for the sofrito before removing the rest of the ingredients from the pantry and fridge.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Rahsaan » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:48 pm

wnissen wrote:True, if ingredients are missing or spoiled, I might not find out until the meal is underway, and sometimes I misjudge the timing of the various tasks and end up with dishes being ready at different times...


Crafting the week's menus in tune with which vegetables/ingredient are more or less ripe/ready to cook is yet another layer of the cooking/planning bug!

Intersecting with those concerns is how much time I'll have for any given meal, whether we need to make leftovers for lunch, and whether we're having wine. And then of course we have a rotating selection of proteins (eggs, cheese, fish/seafood, lentils/beans, tofu, hummus) that needs to be spread out.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by wnissen » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:17 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
wnissen wrote:True, if ingredients are missing or spoiled, I might not find out until the meal is underway, and sometimes I misjudge the timing of the various tasks and end up with dishes being ready at different times...


Crafting the week's menus in tune with which vegetables/ingredient are more or less ripe/ready to cook is yet another layer of the cooking/planning bug!

Intersecting with those concerns is how much time I'll have for any given meal, whether we need to make leftovers for lunch, and whether we're having wine. And then of course we have a rotating selection of proteins (eggs, cheese, fish/seafood, lentils/beans, tofu, hummus) that needs to be spread out.

Yep, it's a heck of lot easier to do on a weekly basis. Even if I had the time to shop daily, I'm not sure I would want to because I'd probably buy the wrong stuff. It's easier to know at the beginning of the week that I've got these five veggies and these five proteins, and combine accordingly. It was extremely helpful to write the coming week's menu out on Sunday. We did that for a few years and now I don't need to, except when the schedule is getting cramped.

But there's a very good reason that my mother made spaghetti every Teuuesday and chicken every Friday! You can't screw up the schedule if you always have the same schedule.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Yes, mise en place. Every time.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Jo Ann Henderson » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:11 pm

I only do mise en place when I am cooking from a recipe. But, when I am riffing on familiar meals, I just grab and go.
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Re: Mise en place? Or not?

by Thomas » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:39 pm

I first make sure I have all that I need, which I usually do in my head, based on what I remember having in the fridge and pantry. I'm a grab and go, even with wok. I cut meat while vegetables are cooking, scramble eggs while meat is cooking, and so on. Gives me a multitasking rush, especially when there's a few more people to feed.

I've got this nagging, and probably irrational feeling that when you cut food you release a good deal of the nutrition and so I like to cut as close to cooking as possible.

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