The Solution

To address this conflict, the chef must plan the pre-preparation carefully. Planning generally follows these steps:

1. Break down each menu item into its stages of production.

Turn to any recipe in this book. Note that the procedures are divided into a sequence of steps that must be done in a certain order to make a finished product.

2. Determine which stages may be done in advance.

• The first step of every recipe, 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 breadings and batters for frying.

• Succeeding steps of a recipe may be done in advance if the foods can then be held without loss of quality.

• 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, sauteed fish, and French-fried potatoes, do not hold well. Large roasts are an important exception to this rule. Items cooked by moist heat, such as braised beef, soups, and stews, are usually better suited to reheating or holding in a steam table.Very delicate items should always be freshly cooked.

3. Determine the best way to hold each item at its final stage of pre-preparation. Holding temperature is the temperature at which a product is kept for service or for storage. Holding temperatures for all potentially hazardous foods must be outside the Food Danger Zone.

• Sauces and soups are frequently kept hot, above 135°F (57°C),for service in steam tables or other holding equipment. Foods such as vegetables, however, should be kept hot only for short periods because they quickly become overcooked.

Refrigerator temperatures, below 41°F (5°C), are best for preserving the

Planning and Organizing Production 131

quality of most foods, especially perishable meats, fish, and vegetables, before final cooking or reheating.

4. 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.

5. Examine recipes to see if they might be revised for better efficiency and quality as served.

For example:

• Instead of preparing a full batch of green peas and holding them for service in the steam table, you might blanch and chill them, then heat portions to order in a sauté pan, steamer, or microwave oven.

• 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 the meat with a portion of the sauce, and serve fresh from the pan.

Caution: Unless you are in charge of the kitchen, do not change a recipe without authorization from your supervisor.

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