When you’re testing out a dish, mise en place works a little differently than it does for service. Typically, you want to use the most abundant and least desirable parts of an ingredient to test flavor, texture, and plating combinations, saving the best cuts and pieces for when you present the dish for real. Giving each ingredient a few different treatments will also allow you to work quickly through several combinations and decide what you like best.
CHEF’S TIP: If you can enlist a fellow cooking enthusiast to develop his own dish based on your components of choice, do it. This is something the development chefs in the ChefSteps kitchen ask each other to do all the time, because everyone will come at the task differently, and you’ll often discover approaches you never would have thought of—but that you can steal to improve your plate.