Breaking it down ~ Mirepoix

Have you watched cooking shows and heard the chef say mirepoix {Meer-Pwa}?  This sounds fancy but it is simple and basic.

Mirepoix is the French culinary term for a base of carrots, onions, and celery used as a starter for soups and sauces. It it the flavor base for many different recipes. The usual is to use two parts onion to one part each of the carrots and celery.

If you are making a white sauce, you might substitute leeks for the carrots. If you are making brown stocks, stews, or dark sauces, you might add a bit of tomato paste.

The size of the chop or dice is up to you, depending on the recipe and your time frame. If you want or need to cook faster, the pieces should be small diced. Of course, if you like to keep the veggies with some bite, make them bigger. So, when I make chili or stew, I leave them bigger. They will cook down and become soft and tender, but still visibly there. If I am making chicken soup, they will be very small indeed.

However you cut them, they need to be sauteed gently over a relatively low heat. Butter is traditional, but I use extra virgin olive oil most often. Add salt. This brings out the juices, breaking the vegetables down and making them begin to sweat. Once this base is ready, there are endless possibilities.

So, next time you hear a chef say mirepoix, you will know to go get the veggies! And whatever you make with it… enjoy!!

the veggies

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