[1] Mirepoix, the basis of much French cooking. In addition to carrots, celery and onions, other aromatics, including garlic, herbs and spices, can be added (photo © Good Eggs).


[2] In addition to carrots, celery and onions, other aromatics, including garlic, herbs and spices, can be added (photo © Good Eggs).

Chicken Stock
[3] Stocks and broths get much of their flavor from mirepoix (photo © Good Eggs).


[4] Toss mirepoix into scrambled eggs. Here’s the recipe (photo © Just Clean Food).


[5] Julia Child’s roast chicken with mirepoix. Here’s the recipe from Food & Wine (photo © Food & Wine).

 

Why are meal delivery kits so popular? One reason is that all the ingredients come chopped, measured and ready to cook.

People who want to prepare their own dinners save the time and mess of prepping.

On the other end are people who make their own stocks. They typically freeze raw vegetable ends along with bones for making stocks and broths.

Here’s a third approach:

The next time you’re slicing carrots and celery, onions, bell peppers and other vegetables for one recipe, chop up double or triple the amount and freeze the extra for the next recipe(s).

Just a mini-tip for freezing: Use a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag.

  • We double-bag them if we’re going to freeze them for more than a few weeks.
  • We also freeze them in recycled plastic containers from prepared and take-out foods, which can be easily cleaned and reused, again and again.
  •  
    Then you’ll be ready the next time you want to cook:

  • Braises and sautés
  • Marinades
  • Meatloaf
  • Omelets and frittatas
  • Rice, grain and bean dishes
  • Roasted foods
  • Stir-fries
  • Stuffing and dressing
  • Stock and broth
  •  
     
    START COOKING WITH A MIREPOIX

    In French cuisine, many recipes begin with a mirepoix (MEER-uh-pwah), also known as aromatics: a combination of chopped carrots*, celery and onions.

    Professional chefs refer to it as “The Holy Trinity.”

    These vegetables, along with optional ingredients like garlic, herbs, spices and additional vegetables are cooked butter or are added raw or cooked—roasted or sautéed—to sauces, soups, stews and stocks.

    In non-butter-based cuisines like Mediterranean cuisines, olive oil is the cooking medium.

    Cooking the aromatics helps to release their flavors and aromas, creating a deep flavor foundation for the recipe that follows.
     
    How To Measure Your Mirepoix

    Recipes will tell you how much to use; but if you’re free-styling, the classic mirepoix ratio is 2:1:1 ratio of onions, carrots, and celery.

  • In percentages, that’s 50% onion, 25% carrot, and 25% celery.
  • In measurements: 1 cup of onions, 1/2 cup of carrot and 1/2 cup of celery
  • In ounces: 8 ounces (227 g) onion, 4 ounces (113 g) carrot, and 4 ounces (113 g) celery.
  • Everything cut in even dices!
  • How large should your dice be?

    It depends on the cooking time. The smaller the dice, the faster they cook.

  • For a quick pan-fry, sauté or stir-fry, a 1/4″ dice. Brown the onions and carrots together over medium-high heat, then add the celery and cook until soft.
  • For a soup or stew, a dice of 3/4″ is better to add body and texture.
  • For broth or stock or broth, larger dices of 1″ to 2″ are better for a long simmer.
  • For roasted fish, meat and poultry, a 3″ dice has plenty of time to soften in the roasting pan, and can also provide a vegetable side.
  •  
    In France, a side dish called matignon, very similar to mirepoix, is cooked and served along with the dish, as a side vegetable.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MIREPOIX

    Though the browning of aromatics as a base likely dates back considerably, the word mirepoix comes from 18th century France.

    The name derives, as do numerous other names of French dishes, from the wealthy employer of the cook credited with establishing and stabilizing it.

    In this case, it was Charles-Pierre-Gaston François de Lévis, duc de Lévis-Mirepoix (1699–1757), from a lineage that began in the 11th century. The ancestral base, Mirepoix, is a commune in the Ariège department in southwestern France.

     
    The duke’s cook was known for the technique, serving numerous dishes à la mirepoix.

    While historians believe that the aromatic mixture existed long before then, they surmised that he was responsible for naming it after the family and making the preparation popular.

    As was common nomenclature, the preparation was named for his employer (as were Beef Stroganoff, Charlotte Russe, Soufflé Rothschild, and many more—others named after celebrities).

    Also as was common, alas, unless he was a celebrity chef, the names of the chefs who created these dishes were rarely identified.

    The Term “Mirepoix”

    The term mirepoix did not appear prominently in French culinary texts until the 19th century. We don’t know exactly what a dish à la mirepoix was like in the 18th century.

    Printed recipes appear as early as 1814; the famed chef Marie-Antoine Carême published one in 1816.

    There are variations with added ingredients, from garlic, ham or pork belly, even Madeira wine.

    Combinations in both the French culinary repertoire and other European cuisines may include bell peppers, chiles, ginger, various herbs, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, shallots and tomatoes, depending on the preferences of regional cuisines.

    The Spanish sofrito, soffritto in Italian, often contains parsley. In Cajun and Creole cuisine, a mirepoix or (jocularly so-called) “holy trinity” is a combination of onions, celery, and bell peppers.

    A neighbor on our apartment’s floor cooks with a mirepoix almost every night. The minute we get off the elevator and inhale the heavenly aroma, we want to knock on the door and invite ourself to dinner.

    It’s just our fantasy; although we have told her how much we enjoy it.

     
    ________________

    *For white stock, parsnips are substituted for carrots to keep the color pale.

     
      


    THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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