Multitasking is not a substitute for being organized. I was always the distracted sort of cook. The disorganized, messy and huge-pile-of-dishes at the end type.
Well professional culinary training put that mindset in check right away. They won’t even let you start cooking until you have all of your ingredients in place and rightfully so! It seems I’m always re-learning this concept. At least several times a month, I’m on a time crunch to make dinner and instead of getting everything in its place, I tend to start throwing things in a pan and trying to cook as I go. The result is nothing is done at the same time, I dirty way more dishes than I actually needed to and the big kicker – This is when I’m most likely to ruin something.
Getting everything in place is a two-part process that is really quite simple:
- Read ALL the way through your recipe before you begin. That means ingredients and all of the directions, not just halfway down. This is your mental mise en place. Get familiar with the flavor profiles, the ingredients and find out whether you don’t have enough eggs or sugar before you get elbow deep in cooking.
- Get all your ingredients out and measure, slice, dice and pour them as specified in the recipe. You don’t have to put each individual spice into it’s own bowl, the whole point of this is efficiency, so combine what you can (you will know what to combine because you previously read ALL the way through the recipe!). Get out your equipment too! Are you going to need a big pan? Maybe you can cook in that one pan from start to finish.