The french have a term "Mise en place" meaning everything in it's place. When reading any recipe, you need to be sure to dice all the onions, measure out the broth and clean/devein the shrimp. There's a reason why restaurants hire people only for prep work, which is one of the most important positions in the kitchen. 

Cooking begins with prep!

Some of the things I'll cover here are:

  • Fabricating a chicken
  • Cutting onions (technique can be applied to garlic, shallots, etc)
  • Preparing lettuce for salad
  • Using a chicken carcass to make chicken stock

Fabricating a Chicken

Why it's important:

  • You get more bang for your buck. 
  • Learn to not waste a single thing
  • Learning how to render down and make your own stock

You can see the 3 points all come down to making your dollar stretch, and who doesn't want to save money while eating better?!

Cutting an Onion

Why it's important:

  • Onions, garlic, and shallots are considered aromatics. There are a few more that fall into that category but I'll leave it to just those considering they're all shaped similarly. 

Preparing leafy vegetables

Why it's important:

  • Most people buy leafy vegetables only to forget about it in the crisper where it gets dry or in the plastic bag they bought it in and it gets all slimy. 
  1. Chop lettuce, spinach (if necessary) or remove stems from greens such as kale and chard.
  2. Wash greens.
  3. Dry using a salad spinner or using clean towels. 
  4. Once dry, store in containers or zip lock bags for easy use. 

Using a chicken carcass to make chicken stock

  • Most store bought stock ends up being high in sodium and nowhere near as flavorful as one you make yourself. 
  • Up your soup and sauce game by using your own stock. I should mention it's very easy to do, get one more use of that chicken carcass. 

Makes 1.5 to 2 litres white chicken stock:

  • 1 chicken, bones and carcasses, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 6 whole peppercorns
  • 1 bouquet garni (can include bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and garlic cloves.)
  • 2 to 3 litres water (enough to completely cover the bones)
  • 1 tbsp cooking wine (optional)

Note: One of the great things about stock is that this is where you can use things like the tops of celery, carrot skin (after it's washed of course of any dirt) and even garlic peel. This is because you're going to skim and filter everything out at the end!

  1. Chop the cooked chicken carcass, if uncooked. Heat a large heavy bottom pot with a little oil. Cook off the carcass until it appears cooked. Then deglaze the pan with the wine. Scrap the bottom with a wooden spoon. 
  2. Remove chicken, add in the mirepoix (french term for onion, celery, and carrots). Cook until translucent for a few minutes. 
  3. Add back in the chicken and add water. Add in the herbs and spices.
  4. Turn the heat up until you can start to see the water bubbling. Turn it down on low. Simmer for 6-8 hours. The longer the better really. 
  5. Every 15-30 minutes check on it to make sure it's not boiling over and skim off any of the impurities that rise to the top. This helps make a cleaner and clearer stock. 
  6. After simmering, pass the liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Cool immediately. 
  7. Skim off any extra fat and refrigerate. You can also portion it in smaller containers to freeze. Should hold for about 4-6 months.