What is mirepoix? Facts, trivia & recipies
If you do any authentic French cooking, you’re likely to run across recipes that call for mirepoix. While that might sound daunting to English speakers, the fact is that mirepoix is a very simple ingredient that you can easily find in any local grocery store or farmer’s market. So what is mirepoix, and how is it used in French cooking?
What is Mirepoix?
Although mirepoix sounds impressive (it’s pronounced, meer-pwah), it’s actually just a term for three commonly-used vegetables: carrots, celery, and onions. The vegetables are usually finely chopped and combined in proportions of two parts onion to one part celery and one part carrots.
Why does Mirepoix Have Such a Fancy Name?
The term mirepoix was coined by a renowned chef to honor his patron, Charles-Pierre-Gaston-François de Lévis du Mirepoix. Charles du Mirepoix was a general from the town of Mirepoix, who was granted the title of Marshal of France for extraordinary military deeds. Aside from giving his name to an important ingredient in many dishes, he was also an ambassador of Louis XV.
Why is Mirepoix Important to French Cooking?
The vegetables used in mirepoix are part of a group known as aromatics, which also include garlic, parsnips, peppers, mushroom, and ginger, among others. What all of these vegetables have in common is that they have a lot of flavor and can stand up to long cooking times. Many regions use a selection of well-beloved aromatics to serve as a base for most of their dishes, adding other flavors on top of the base. For example, Cajun cooking has its own version of mirepoix, which uses bell peppers instead of carrots.
Mirepoix, therefore, is the base of a wide variety of French soups and sauces and is an important part of the traditional flavor associated with French cooking. The combination of mirepoix and butter is one of the reasons why French cooking tastes distinctively different than, say, German or Italian foods.
How is Mirepoix Used?
Usually, all of the mirepoix ingredients are diced into small, uniformly-sized cubes and sautéed together in butter until they are translucent. By cutting the cubes to a similar size, you can help ensure that they will all cook at the same time.
Some ideas for using mirepoix to create French-style dishes include:
• Add veal bones from a roast to mirepoix, cover with water, and let simmer to make a delicious stock.
• Sautée ham or bacon with your mirepoix to intensify the flavor.
• Use mirepoix as a base for a richly flavored soup by sweating the vegetables, adding meat, covering with water, and allowing to boil.
• To make a white sauce with mirepoix, replace the carrots with leeks or parsnips.
• After cooking pork chops, add mirepoix to the drippings in the pan, simmer until the vegetables turn translucent, and then serve over the pork.
Using mirepoix is one way to add a refined flavor to your cooking. Best of all, these vegetables are commonly available, and the cooking technique is easy to perfect. Why not use mirepoix to add a French flair to your cooking today?
Benni Jenyfari is a freelance author for Only-Cookware.com and other online consumer guides and informational websites. Benni has written on subjects ranging from bird baths to travel but has a particular interest in food and cooking related topics.