>I’ve always wondered how chefs make everything “come together” at the right time – beautiful food. perfect presentation. everything done at same time. temperature spot on.
Often, I use Jeff as my right hand man in the kitchen. He helps me remember the boiling pot on the stove or the broiler browning some wonder in the oven. If it weren’t for him, I think I’d have a lot more failures in the kitchen. He’s saved many a dish. For sure. (And, he does clean-up and dishes, too! I’m so lucky. He’s a gem.) I like to think I’m good at multi-tasking, but for some reason, multi-tasking and cooking don’t mix well for me. When I have multiple dishes going at the same time, it’s like a science trying to time everything just right.
It all makes sense now – prep. Simply put. Get all your ducks in a row before you dive in and start cooking. Hard for an impatient person, but I guess it’s worth a try. I just adore Williams Sonoma – for their products, their recipes, their ideas. They have everything a cook could care for. I’m including an excerpt from their article on prep.
As quoted from Williams Sonoma’s article…
Mise en Place: The Secret to Cooking Like a Professional
When you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table, it’s tempting to just turn on the stove and start cooking. But you’ll save time in the long run if you spend a few minutes getting organized. Professional chefs call this mise en place, which literally means “put in place.”
Mise en place is the secret that enables a restaurant to take your order and, ten minutes later, serve your meal fresh and piping hot. It all boils down to advance preparation. In a professional kitchen, the carrots are peeled, sliced and blanched. The stocks and sauces are made, the garlic is chopped, the meat is marinated and the water is boiling for the pasta. All that’s left to be done is cook the meal. Once the prep work is done, the dish comes together easily. (So true.)
This concept translates well into the home kitchen. No matter how simple the recipe, taking time to organize your equipment and prep the ingredients will streamline the cooking process. That way, you won’t be chopping the parsley for the sauce while the steaks burn, or rummaging around for the cheese grater (and the cheese) while the pasta overcooks. If you’re preparing several dishes at once, mise en place is essential to prevent last-minute chaos in the kitchen. (Love the chaos reference, as I can so relate.)
Before you start chopping and dicing, read the recipe through twice to familiarize yourself with all the steps. The list of ingredients specifies simple prep work, such as zesting the lemons or melting the butter. The directions alert you to any tasks that must be done well in advance, such as chilling sugar cookie dough before rolling it out.
I’m in serious need of improvement in this area, so wish me luck in my ‘mastery of prepping’. I’ll let you know how it goes…