What is the meaning of mise en place?
Part of our Ultimate Guide to Recipe Writing. Click to see more answers to your questions.
The preparation and laying out of all the ingredients is known by the French culinary term mise en place or “setting in place.”
A mise en place can mean extra dishes – little bowls, pitchers, and cups – to wash, though sheets of waxed paper can also be used to hold mounds of ingredients. But having ingredients arranged before cooking begins is practical and usually worth the effort, ensuring that each ingredient – already measured – is at hand exactly when needed. And whether or not the home cook chooses to prepare a mise en place, preparation times of recipes are calculated with the assumption that the ingredients will be ready as described on the ingredients list. Therefore, the timing will vary according to whether, for example, bell peppers on a list of ingredients are 2 red bell peppers or 2 red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice.
A recipe for chicken salad that calls for a whole raw chicken will be very different from one that asks for “4 cups cooked diced chicken.” If it’s important for the chicken to have been roasted with lemon and tarragon, instructions for the roasting will be part of the recipe. If any cooked chicken can be used (leftovers from a previous meal, or a purchased cooked chicken), instead of taking hours to prepare, the recipe might take minutes.