Sara's Kitchen Revelations – Mise En Place is a Waste of Time for the Home Cook.

I take my life into my own hands by saying this. I’m sure all my chef instructors from my alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America, will want to shoot me at dawn. But here is what I have discovered from cooking dinner at home 5 or 6 nights a week for the last 25 years – mise en place (meaning, prepping and measuring all your ingredients before starting a recipe) is a waste of time, literally.

Here is the mise en place for the entree “Det Burgers” I made for my daughter Ruthie’s birthday on July 4th

mise en place for The Det Burger

 1 medium onion sliced

eight cremini mushrooms, sliced

one 4-ounce can diced, green chiles, drained

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced

6 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 4 slices (here I cut it into 8 smaller slices)

1/3 cup beer

rustic bread slices, toasted, brushed with olive oil and rubbed with a cut garlic clove

(missing from the photo- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck or round, shaped into 4 burgers)


This preparation took me about 15 minutes before I even turned on a burner. I could have saved that time if I proceeded this way.

1. Pull all the ingredients from the fridge/cupboard and put them on the counter

2. Heat up a skillet with 2 tablespoons oil while I peel and slice the onion

3. Add the onion to the skillet and cook it about 5 minutes, stirring, until it is caramelized

4. Slice the mushrooms while the onion is cooking and then add them to the pan and cook, stirring for 4 to 5 minutes or until the liquid they give off has evaporated.

5. Open and drain the chiles, pit and slice the olives while the mushrooms are cooking

6. Add the chiles and the olives to the onion mixture and transfer the topping to a bowl.

6. Wipe out the skillet, add the remaining tablespoons oil and cook the burgers while I slice the cheese, measure the beer and start to toast the bread

7. Top each burger with one fourth of the topping, then with one fourth of the cheese. Pour the beer over all, put on a lid to cover the skillet and let the cheese melt.

8. Finish toasting the bread while the cheese  melts and when the burgers are ready, put them on the toast, pour the “sauce” from the skillet over the burgers and top with a second piece of toast.

If I had prepared and cooked the recipe this way it would have taken me 15 to 20 minutes. If I did all my mise en place first, dinner would not have been ready for 30 minutes, it would have taken double the time.

Do you see my point?

There are two situations where you MUST prep all your food before you start cooking:

1.When making any kind of Asian food that involves a lot of ingredients (each ingredient might spend 30 seconds in the pan, so if you are still mincing your chiles while the garlic and ginger is being stir fried, your garlic/ginger mixture will burn).

2.When cooking in a restaurant

If you are dying to make this recipe (which you should be, it is really tasty) you can find it here:

Det Burgers

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12 Responses to Sara's Kitchen Revelations – Mise En Place is a Waste of Time for the Home Cook.

  1. Pingback: Using up Gifts From the Garden: Lemon Basil Ice Cream | Biscuits and Bobbins

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