Saturday, December 4, 2010

Back to Basics: The Magic of Mirepoix

Mire-what?? Mirepoix.  It's time to brush up on some food basics.  Even seasoned home cooks who use these three main ingredients quite often are unfamiliar with its name.  A mirepoix is made up of onions, carrots and celery.  The ratio is usually two parts onion to one part carrot and one part celery.  It is the foundation of most stocks, stews, soups and sauces.  It is a culinary fundamental, mastered by chefs in the first week of their training, yet a staple most home cooks have no idea about.  During the winter months, especially when stews and soups are in demand, these three ingredients can be a culinary go to to create the perfect dish.  A mirepoix adds flavor and aroma and using a mirepoix eliminates the need to add extra fat, sugar or salt to enhance the flavor.

Keep these three ingredients on hand.  They are probably the most inexpensive vegetables to buy and keep better than most other vegetables.  You can even prepare your mirepoix in large batches, freeze it and use it as you need it.  The quantities below should give you the approximate ratio for a simple soup (lots of recipes to follow!).  The size of the vegetables in the mirepoix are based on the cooking time of the dish. For example, if you will be using the mirepoix for a braise that will cook for hours, the pieces can be larger.  If you are making a soup that will not cook for as long, cut the vegetables in smaller pieces. The pieces should generally be the same size so they cook uniformly.

Can't figure out what to cook?!
Mirepoix + stock + additional vegetables + protein= a perfect, healthy soup!


2 small white onions
1 large carrot
2 stalks celery