Mirepoix, si’l vous plaît?
A mirepoix – chopped celery, carrot and onion – is the basis for most sauced dishes in European cuisine.
Most common in French and Italian cooking, the flavor in a mirepoix depends on the aromatic qualities of its ingredients to infuse food with fresh, mellow undertones and body.
Add acids like those found in tomatoes and citrus and herbs for deeper, brighter flavors.
The mirepoix is also a good source of dietary fiber.
See the list pages, link above just under the title, for cooking instuctions.
The other holy trinity
Similar to a mirepoix, the “trinity” in Cajun cuisine is made of chopped celery, onion and bell pepper.
More savory (less sweet) than a mirepoix, the trinity is sautéed to release its flavors then infused with fresh garlic, ground sassafrass, fruit acids, herbs & spices.
Prepared in a roux, equal parts fat and flour cooked into a paste to which liquid is added , the trinity forms the basis of gumbo, jambalaya and étoufée.
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Chopped celery, carrot and onion are the ingredients of a mirepoix, pronounced /mir-pwah/. As always in cooking, the freshest ingredients make the best tasting food.
When preparing your mirepoix, be sure that the pieces of your vegetables are as close to the same size as possible. Smaller pieces cook more quickly than big ones.
The proportions of ingredients depends on your taste. Like celery? Use more celery than carrot and onion in your mirepoix.
Not into the chopping? Many grocery stores now offer vegetables, including celery, that are already cut up and ready to use.
The Cajun trinity
The difference between a mirepoix and the Cajun combination of aromatics called the “trinity” is bell pepper.
Although there is a great deal of French influence in Cajun cuisine, the trinity speaks more to African and Caribbean flavors.
Combine another staple of Cajun cooking – okra – with the trinity, and you’re on your way to making a gumbo.
Prepare the ingredients of the trinity the same way you would a mirepoix and adjust flavors according to your own taste.
Add some fresh garlic
Cooking a mirepoix or the trinity is easy.
- After chopping the vegetables, place in a heated pan and sauté them in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to season. Your mirepoix is finished when the onion turns translucent.
- Reduce the heat and continue adding ingredients, like fresh garlic to add a deeper, peppery note to the mirepoix. Cook another 5-7 minutes.
Brighten your flavors with acid
Adding acid to cooking food is essential in brightening and tuning flavors.
Usually in a mirepoix, you add two fruit acids – fresh tomatoes and fresh lemon juice.
- Seeding the tomatoes before you chop them is a matter of taste.
- Do yourself a favor and juice the lemons over the pan as you cook, then fish out the lemon seeds with a spoon. They’re very bitter. Bite into one and try it for yourself.
- Cook the mirepoix for another 5-7 minutes to infuse it with the fruit acids.
- Then add some protein – chicken stock, beef stock, clam stock, whatever is your preference and reduce the liquid by cooking another 10 minutes or so.
Now you have a sauce that you can purée in a blender, or not, and serve over meat, pasta or rice.