Episode 51: Beyond Mise En Place
Building on Episode 50 – Your Kitchen, Your Rules: You’re Ready! we take a step closer to fine tuning your cooking skill set and basic know-how. We talk in depth about building layers of flavor to make the most of the ingredients we choose to cook with. We’re thinking outside of the box to make the most of simple, fresh ingredients that can be used in as many ways as you have ideas.
We talk about…
- The last 4 episodes (EP 47 – 50) that lay out the culinary blueprint to cook creatively.
- Using what you have once you’re ready; thinking and cooking outside THE BOX.
- Confidence is the key word: thinking beyond mise en place requires you to understand what taste your ingredients are grounded in; from there you can balance and layer flavor.
- We refer to Episode 32 – Our Ever Changing Taste and Episode 35 – All Purpose Seasoning; think about the mouthfeel. Salt creates a tingly sensation; Sweet silky; Sour – pucker; bitter – sucking/dry mouth.
- The goal is to achieve balance while creating the fullest expression of the ingredients you use.
- When to add flavor; taste as you go. Aromatic flavor (herbs spices, etc.) dissipates through long cooking times and will meld and bloom in your food; the flavor becomes more complete. Primary tastes intensify over cooking time.
- How to layer in something in: sprinkle a thin coating over the surface of your container. You don’t need a precise measurement, just lightly/evenly spread the flavor over the surface.
- “Beyond Mise En Place” as a moniker for finding the fullest and best expression of the ingredients you choose to use.
- Our formula: 1. Balance the primary taste in the food (so no one taste is dominant) – do this by combining ingredients or adding seasoning (salt/sweet); then 2. Round out the flavor with a bit of acid (sour) or bitter and/or umami notes. 3. Layer on flavor with aromatics – fresh herbs and spices.
- The cooking techniques that hit low, medium, high flavor notes: low note/underlying flavor; medium/what sings in the middle; high/the aromatic expression.
- The cooking techniques that create layers of flavor include…
- Searing Meat. Caramelization creates a textural counter-point
- Deglazing. Add liquid to the pan remnants releases flavorful bits from pan and giving it a place to bloom into new flavors. We refer to Episode 10 – So You Want a Little Sauce with That?
- Caramelizing Onions. Slow cooked vegetables gives any dish depth because it releases sugars and flavors.
- Toast Spices. Releases the aromatic oils to amplify the aromatics. When ground the depth and complexity of flavor is amazing. We reference Season 2 Bonus Episode Burnt/Breadcrumbs.
- Reduce to intensify flavor. Do this for an extended amount of time to build layers and complexity of flavor.
- Finish with a splash of acidity, lemon/zest or vinegar; Sherry vinegar for complexity or Balsamic Vinegar for a note of sweetness.
- Add mouthfeel and texture to put things over the edge by puree veggies (creamy); sieve (silky); body (cornstarch slurry); crunchy – breadcrumbs/fried herbs; chewy – toasted bready. Use these in combination.
- Tools we love to use to help you layer flavor: zester; hand held juicer; fish turner spatula; grandmother’s cast iron skillet. Donna’s a good chef’s knife; a mandoline; tongs and a large Dutch oven.
- If there’s one thing to take away from this episode, Chef Donna says start with what you like. Set everything out and then go beyond the mise en place and think about layering in flavor, then create mouthfeel, and you’ll find you prepare a delicious flavorful meal each time.
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