Reading a recipe from start to finish should be your first step in the kitchen for several reasons. First, reading your recipe will give you a heads up on the tasks at hand and a chance to make sure you have the necessary ingredients and equipment on hand. (How can you get your mise en place in order without reading your recipe first?)
Before culinary school I had no idea about mise en place or the importance of reading a recipe properly. In fact, it was my standard operating procedure to start with the instructions and go from there. I prepped nothing. No mise for me. The result was a time consuming mess in my kitchen. Let me tell you how to avoid my mistakes!
How to Read a Recipe
To read a recipe successfully, you need to know the basics of how recipes are structured. A good recipe should start with ingredients listed in the order in which they are used. It should include an amount (1/2 teaspoon; 2 medium), which may be followed by additional instructions for prepping that ingredient (1 cup flour, sifted or 2 medium onions, sliced).
After the ingredients list come the directions. Look for specific instruction that includes equipment you’ll need, temperatures to achieve and visual or time cues to determine doneness or when it’s time to move to the next step (Saute onion in medium nonstick skillet over low heat until tender, about five minutes).
Recipes are like maps. If you know how to read them, you’ll never get lost.