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What Is Mirepoix?
Mirepoix is the aromatic flavor base made by lightly cooking three vegetables—traditionally onion, celery, and carrot—in fat. The vegetables are cooked slowly in butter or oil in order to coax out the flavors, but without browning or caramelizing them.
Mirepoix is used as a flavoring ingredient and is thus strained out at the end of the cooking process.
How Do You Pronounce Mirepoix?
Mirepoix is a French word and it’s pronounced meer-PWAH.
The word comes from the last name of a French aristocrat, the Duke Charles-Pierre-Gaston François de Lévis, duc de Lévis-Mirepoix, whose cook is credited with establishing this mix of ingredients as a staple in French cooking in the eighteenth century.
How Do You Make a Classic Mirepoix?
The classic French version of mirepoix includes onions, carrots, and celery in the following ratio: two parts onions, one part carrots, and one part celery.
If you want to make a really classic mirepoix, the ratios should be determined by weight. So, for example, two pounds of mirepoix would be 16 ounces of onions, eight ounces of carrots, and eight ounces of celery.
What Are the Five Most Common Mirepoix Variations?
Mirepoix is the classic French aromatic combination, but cuisines around the world have their own variations. Here are five other aromatic combinations that you might find in international cooking.
1) French Pinçage
French pinçage (pronounced pin-sahge) is mirepoix with tomato paste added. It’s a great option for adding mirepoix to sauces.
- Use pinçage for:
- Sauce espagnole
- Demi glace
- Oxtail consommé
3) Cajun Holy Trinity
The Cajun holy trinity is a version of mirepoix used in the American South. It consists of onion, green bell pepper, and celery in the following ratio: two parts onion, one part green bell pepper, and one part celery. It’s cooked in a neutral vegetable oil until soft and aromatic.
The holy trinity is good for and it’s great for Cajun dishes like:
- Red beans and rice
3) Italian Soffritto
Italian soffritto is very similar to mirepoix. The first difference is that while mirepoix uses diced vegetables, soffitto uses minced vegetables. It’s also most often cooked in olive oil (as opposed to butter) and the veggies are cooked until they’re soft and brown.
Italian soffritto is a versatile base for soups and casseroles. Try it with:
- Italian wedding soup
- Stuffed peppers
4) Spanish Sofrito
Spanish sofrito is a basic Spanish red sauce that combines tomatoes, onions, garlic, and other vegetables (like bell peppers or herbs, for example). The veggies are sauteed in olive oil until they’re tender.
The resulting sauce can be used as a salsa or as an ingredient in other dishes like:
- Black rice
- Arroz con pollo
5) German Suppengrün
Suppengrün means “soup greens” in German and includes carrots, leeks, and celery root (celeriac). It can also include herbs like parsley or thyme, as well as other root veggies like onions and rutabaga.
It’s used in clear broths, soups, marinades, and sauces like:
- Sauce for braised meats
- Beef or chicken stock
- German oxtail soup
What Is the Best Way to Incorporate Mirepoix With Stock?
For mirepoix in a stock, the vegetables can be chopped fairly roughly, as they’ll be strained out. Just make sure to cut everything approximately the same size, so they cook evenly.
In general, the finer you chop the veggies, the quicker the aroma and flavors will be released. A good way to gauge how finely to chop the vegetables is the length of your recipe. For shorter cooking times, chop smaller. For longer cooking times, you’ll want to leave larger pieces.
The veggies should be cooked until they’re soft, smell delicious, and have lightened in color—but aren’t browning.
Classic mirepoix is cooked in butter, but if you’re making a meat dish, it’s customary to sear the meat first and then use that fat to cook the onion, carrots, and celery.
Want to try your hand at mirepoix? Try Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for salmon with shellfish minestrone.