Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Mirepoix- A combination of chopped aromatic vegetables-usually two parts onions, one part carrot, and one part celery- used to flavor stocks, soups, braises, and stews. -TPC 8th edition
Most of you are aware that my favorite things in the world are stocks, soups, braises, and stews. therefore i have a great relationship with mirepoix. way back in culinary school we spent hours cutting it. a busy restaurant will blow through so much of the above listed ingredients it can be mind boggling. last year to prep for thanksgiving i took a 50# bag of onions off of the produce truck, then continued to trim, peel, and dice them. all of them. i also use some sort of mirepoix at home almost every day i am here. i have been known to send Melissa to the store for onions and nothing else even if i am not sure what i am going to cook. i just know i cant make much progress without them. the thing that makes mirepoix so cool is that when you use all the ingredients it adds a depth of flavor that cant be beat or matched without them. whether in a sauce, or a soup. also they are some of the least expensive things you can buy at any grocery store, almost anywhere in the world, any time of the year. i read once that the onion is the only ingredient that is seen in every major cuisine across the world.
there are definitely some arguments about the ratios, ingredients, and even the prep involved though. a very, very good chef i know thinks that celery should be upped and the other too backed off to impart what he considers equal flavor on the palate. very true if you think about the flavor of mild celery versus the aggressiveness of carrots and even more aggressive onion. i personally have a bit of a dislike for the texture of celery so i dont always use it, instead, especially in a braise, i will use carrot, onion, and dried peppers (pasillas, chipotle, etc.) if you are cooking a recipe that calls for a "trinity" you are reading what is most likely a Cajun recipe and it is describing a mirepoix without carrot, and instead green bell peppers. some chefs wont peel onions, or carrots when they are using them for mirepoix, but i think if nothing more than basic kitchen discipline it should be done "start with garbage-end with garbage". usually the cooking time is long so a rough chop or cut is fine for flavor extraction, which is precisely why it is a popular task for culinary students, interns, or even dishwashers in restaurants everywhere.