© Randal Oulton
A "Mirepoix" is a classic French combination of vegetables meant to subtly add flavour to a dish. Some vegetables, such as onions and celery, were selected for their aroma; others such as carrots and parsnips were selected for their sweetness.
In France, there are actually two main combinations of mirepoix.
The first is "mirepoix au maigre", an all vegetable combination. It was meant for use on meatless days (lean or "maigre" days, according to the Catholic Church calendar.) The usual combination and proportion of ingredients is 1/2 onions, 1/4 celery, 1/4 carrots. The celery helps to boost the flavour of a dish missing meat. Outside France, this is the version of mirepoix that has become popularized.
The second combination is "mirepoix au gras", a combination with a very small amount of chopped meat added to it. See separate entry.
Sometimes a mirepoix is added directly to a dish; sometimes it is gently fried first, which evaporates some of the water in the mirepoix and concentrates and melds the flavours.
A similar, more loosely-defined mixture in Italian cooking is called a "battuto."
Mirepoix StockFry the Mirepoix gently until if softens and caramelizes a bit, then boil brief in water. Strain if necessary.
- Dice fine if using in a recipe that cooks quickly; as a fine dice, they also become part of the sauce and help to make it thicker;
- Dice medium for stocks;
- Dice large for soups and stews.
"Cut two pounds of fillet of veal, one pound of fat bacon, one pound of lean ham, four carrots, four onions, all into dice; pass off the whole with one pound of fresh butter, some whole parsley, a handful of mushrooms, two shallots, the least particle of garlic, a bay-leaf, a little thyme and basil, two cloves, a blade of mace, and a little pepper. The whole drawn over a slow fire, add the flesh of two lemons sliced thin (removing the pips), three ladlefuls of consommé, and half a pint of good white wine; simmer the mirepoix for two hours, and squeeze it through a tammy. Use this for entrees directed to be prepared 'a la mirepoix.'" -- George Augustus Sala (1828 - 1895). The Thorough Good Cook. 1896. Sauces: 40. Mirepoix.
Literature & Lore
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-- Samuel Pepys (English diarist. 23 February 1633 – 26 May 1703)