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What Is Matignon Cooking?
Matignon (pronounced “mah-ti-nyohn”) refers to vegetables that are diced to a specific size, like a mirepoix. Unlike a mirepoix, though, which is strained out prior to serving, matignon vegetables are part of the finished dish. Aromatic matignon vegetables—usually minced carrot, onion, and celery—are typically cooked in butter with herbs. A traditional matignon also uses ham, but you can opt for plain vegetables, which are sweated at the start.
You can cook any number of different protein and vegetable combinations à la matignon. The technique works with any large joint of meat that has a lot of connective tissue—lamb shanks, osso buco, oxtail, or even a pot roast. The meat then cooks on top of the vegetables, and the resulting sauce is a combination of the meat juices and the vegetables.
Which Vegetables Are Best for Matignong Cooking?
The traditional components of matignon, as laid down by French food authority Auguste Escoffier, are two medium carrots, two onions, and two celery stalks. Many types of root vegetables work wonderfully à la matignon, including potatoes, leeks, turnips, and rutabaga. Options abound, though it's best to avoid delicate vegetables that grow above ground, such as green beans. For Mediterranean flavors, you could use a vegetable combination of peppers, cauliflower, onions, and tomatoes. Bear in mind that you want to use vegetables that exude liquid, not ones that absorb liquid (such as eggplant).
3 Ways Make Matignon Vegetables
- The old-school, Escoffier-approved method for preparing matignon vegetables is to mince two medium carrots, two onions, and two celery stalks, and to cook them in butter with one tablespoon raw lean ham, one sprig thyme, and half a crushed bay leaf. The pan is then deglazed with two tablespoons of Madeira wine.
- Other recipes use bacon in place of the ham, port or white wine instead of the Madeira, or a bouquet garni instead of the thyme and crushed bay leaf. Matignon vegetables can be prepared “au maigre” (the vegetarian version, without meat) or “au gras” (with meat).
- In his Pork Shoulder à la Matignon, Chef Thomas Keller cooks the matignon vegetables in the rendered pork fat leftover from searing the pork shoulder, and deglazes the pan with dry hard cider.
How to Plate Matignon Vegetables
Matignon vegetables can be added to a braising liquid, imparting their flavor to meat as it slowly cooks. Unlike Italian soffritto, matignon vegetables don’t just dissolve into a sauce—they’re usually sprinkled on top of, or plated underneath, a piece of meat or in a fish dish. They can also be served separately as a side dish to a meal.
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