30 minutes Or 75 minutes, whatevs...

Kitchen Timer

Mark Bittman, you're killing me. I made your Spaghetti and Meatballs with hope in my heart and I made it in 30 minutes! (times 2.5)

I completely understand your argument that mise-en-place is an overly fussy step for home cooks. The only time a home chef needs to have everything ready is for stir-fries where everything comes together rapidly. The preparation of the mise-en-place works well in a restaurant where a cook is moving all the time and has several different dishes going. If a restaurant chef has a moment after something has started, they better get going on the next order. If I prep everything ahead of time that means I'll have small six to ten minute breaks between recipe steps which sounds terribly annoying. I could either do a few six minutes chores and forget to stir the onions or I could prep along the way.

I only prepare ahead for the aforementioned stir fries or if I'm using an ingredient like butternut squash that requires muscle and careful peeling. I've been cooking long enough that I know how long chopping an onion takes me. Still, I find it disingenuous when cooking magazines blithely note something will take 30 minutes and presume all ingredients are already prepped. Do they test the recipes on real people, real people with a child hanging on their ankles, or dinner that needs to get made after soccer practice goes until the dark of night and the cook is already exhausted?

Bittman, you are very keen on everyone cooking everything. I even recall an article of yours where you shamed your readers for buying crackers instead of using our copious free time making them ourselves. I'm sure they are significantly more delicious but a person needs to know their limits. Seventy-five minutes for thirty minute spaghetti and meatballs was beyond my limit.

More Info:

Spaghetti and Drop Meatballs With Tomato Sauce by Mark Bittman

Mise en place

The Minimalist Make It Snappy, and the Richer, the Better