Even on the simplest level, preparation is necessary. If you prepare only one short recipe, you must first
- Assemble your tools.
- Assemble your ingredients.
- Wash, trim, cut, prepare and measure your raw materials.
- Prepare your equipment (preheat oven, line baking sheets etc.)
Only then you can begin the actual preparation.
When many items are to be prepared in a commercial kitchen, the situation is much more complex. Dealing with this complexity is the basis of kitchen organisation.
PLANNING AND ORGANISAING FOR PREPARATION.
The Problem :
Every food service operation faces a basic conflict between two unavoidable facts ;
- There is far too much work to do in a kitchen to leave until the last minute , so some work must be done ahead.
- Most foods are at their best quality immediately after preparation, and they deteriorate as they held.
The Solution :
To solve this problem, the chef must plan the pre preparation carefully. Planning generally follows these steps ;
- Break each menu item down into its stages of production. Note that the procedures are divided into a sequence of steps, which must be done in a certain order to make a finished product.
- Determine which stages may be done in advance.
A. The first step of any recipe, whether written or not, is always part of advance preparation ; assembling and preparing the ingredients. This includes cleaning and cutting produce. Cutting and trimming meats, and preparing breading and batters for frying.
B. Succeeding steps of a recipe may be done in advance if they can then be held without loss of quality.
C. Final cooking should be done as close as possible to service, for maximum freshness.
Frequently separate parts of a recipe, such as a sauce or a stuffing, are prepared in advance,, and the dish is assembled at the last minute.
In general, items cooked by dry-heat methods, such as broiled steaks, sautéed fish and fresh fried potatoes, do not hold well. Large roasts are an important exception to this rule. Items cooked by moist heat, such as braised beefs, soups, and stews, are usually better suited to reheating or holding in a steam table. Very delicate items should always be freshly cooked.
- Determine the best way to hold the item at its final stage of preparation.
A. Sauces and soups are frequently kept hot, above 1400 F (600 C), for service in steam tables or other holding equipment. Many foods such as vegetables, however kept hot for the only short periods, because they quickly become overcooked.
B. Refrigerator temperatures, below 400 F (40 C), are best for preserving the quality of most foods, especially perishable meats, fish, and vegetables, before final cooking or reheating.
- Determine how long it takes to prepare each stage of each recipe. Plan a production schedule beginning with the preparations that take the longest.
Many operations can be carried on at once, because they don’t all require your complete attention the full time. It may take 6 to 8 hours to make a stock, but you don’t have to stand and watch it all that time.
- Examine recipes to see if they might be revised for better efficiency and quality as served. Foe e.g.
A. Instead of preparing a full batch of green peas and holding for service in the steam table, you might blanch and chill them and then heat portions to order in sauté pan, steamer, or microwave oven.
B. Instead of holding a large batch of veal scaloppine, in mushroom sauce in the steam table, you might prepare and hold the sauce, sauté the veal to order, combine with a portion of the sauce, and serve fresh from the pan.
The goal of preparation is to do as much work in advance as possible without loss of quality.
At service time, all energy can then be used for finishing each item immediately before serving with the utmost attention to quality and freshness.
Many preparation techniques in common use are designed for the convenience of the cooks at the expense of quality. Remember that quality should always take the highest priority.
PREPARATION OF INGREDIENTS (Mise-en-place)
Many techniques are used for food preparation before cooking and they are done according to the requirements of the various dishes. This helps to improve appearance, texture, palatability, and favour and foods combine readily. The techniques are divided into two:
Sub-division and fractionalization
Combining and mixing in the preparation of foods
“Everything in its place”’ preparation prior to a task or service.
Sub – Division and fractionalization
- Washing: This is necessary to remove the superficial dirt. Meat, fish vegetable, and fruits are washed in cold water before any preparation if peeling or cutting. If cut and soaked for a long period or washed after cutting, there is a great loss of water-soluble vitamins and minerals. The more cut surface exposed, the more nutrition is lost.
- Peeling: Spoilt, soiled, and inedible portions are removed. The skin of vegetables or fruits is either peeled or scraped.
- Paring: Paring is removing the surface layer in a circular motion by pressure of a knife-edge all around the object.
- Cutting: Reducing to small pieces with a knife. When a similar result is obtained with a chopping knife, or with a mechanical food chopped the process is called chopping (small pieces). Dicing – cutting in cubes is known as dicing, as in dicing potatoes, carrots, etc.
- Mirepoix: Coarsely cut root vegetables. The desired shape for turning vegetable is barrel
- Mincing: Cutting into very fine pieces. Eg. Mutton, Onions, etc.
- Grating: Reducing to small particles by rubbing on a rough surface, as in grating lemon peels, cheese, etc.
- Grinding: Reducing to small fragments by crushing, as in grinding spices, of coffee in a mill or on a grinding stone.
- Mashing: This is a method of breaking up soft foods with pressure, with a potato masher or with a fork
- Pureeing: To press food through a food mill or fine strainer to make it smooth and semi-liquid.
- Pressing: Separating liquid portions from solids by weights or mechanical pressure, as in making cider from apples, paneer, etc.
- Steeping: Extracting colouring flavouring by allowing ingredients to stand in water to a temperature just below boiling point
- Milling: This is used for cereals to remove husk etc.
- Sieving: Passing through a fine wire mesh to remove impurities. It also helps in enclosing air and mixing ingredients evenly, like sieving of flour for cakes
- Refining: Freeing any material from impurities, as in refining cane sugar/oil.
- Skimming: Removing a floating layer by passing a utensil under it (ladle) as in skimming the cream from milk.
- Rendering: Separating fat from connective tissues by heat as in rendering lard (dripping).
- Filtration: Separating solids from liquids, through fine-meshed materials, as in filtering fruit juices for jelly through a cloth bag, or fine wire mesh strainer.
- Flavouring: A bundle of herbs and vegetables to impart flavour to stocks and sauces in Bouquet Garni.
- Homogenization: Subdividing large drops into smaller ones by forcing them through a small aperture under great pressure as in homogenizing the fat in the cream.
- Emulsification: Even dispersal of one liquid throughout another immiscible liquid.
- Evaporation or Reduction: Removal of water commonly accelerated by heating without a lid.
Combining and Mixing in the Preparation of Foods
Food preparation often involves the combining and mixing of different foods or food materials. Important effects of the methods of combining foods or ingredients are those related to palatability. Texture and flavour are often controlled to an important degree by the skill and method employed in combining component materials.
- Beating: Mixing materials briskly, lifting and dropping them with an appropriate tool. Sometimes used synonymously with whipping as defined below. This is done to a thin mixture of liquids. The aim is to mix well and incorporate air.
- Blending: Mixing two or more ingredients thoroughly, e.g. blending milk into a white roux for the bechamel sauce.
- Cutting in: Usually the incorporation of fat in flour and other sifted dry ingredients with a knife, a method which produces a relatively coarse division of the fat and does not result in blending as in cutting the fat into a pastry mixture.
- Creaming: Softening fat by friction with a spoon usually followed by gradual incorporation of sugar as in cake making.
- Folding: Mixing materials with a palette knife or wooden spoon, by a careful lifting and dropping motion as in folding whipped egg whites into a cake mixture. The palette knife is to lift.
- Kneading: To work the dough by pressing and folding until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Marinating: Coating the surface of food materials, a marinade, which is usually a mixture of oil and acid as in marinating the components of a vegetable salad with French dressing.
- Sealing: Sautéing or pre-cooking roast, to develop colour and flavour
- Stirring: Mixing materials with an appropriate tool, such as a spoon by a circular motion, as in stirring white sauce, while cooking.
- Whipping: Rapid beating with a wire eggbeater or mechanical beater usually to incorporate air, as in whipping egg white.
- Whisking: Whisking is done when a mixture needs a lot of air, items need to be mixed together so that they do not separate.
- Blind baking: To cook an empty pastry shell before filling it with a liquid (or) creamy mixture, which would otherwise soak the bottom or with delicate fruit that does not need to be cooked.
- Small holes are made in Pastry.
- The aim is to allow steam to escape during baking to avoid distorting the pastry.
- Rubbing in:
- Fat and flour are rubbed together
- Fat is reduced to bread crumb sized particles
- Fat particles melt during baking, giving off steam which makes the pastry expand and rise.