A few basic ingredients can make a flavor of difference.
Mirepoix (pronounced: meer-PWAH) is a simple method of “sweating” chopped vegetables by gently sauteéing them can bring great flavor and depth to a variety of dishes. This flavor-base adds an important element to stews, soups marinades and meats, but comes together quite easily.
This traditional French element is made by lightly and slowly cooking onions, celery and carrots in butter or oil, bringing out their flavors without browning or burning them.
How to Make It:
Mirepoix ingredients (onions, carrots and celery) are traditionally measured using a ratio of 2:1:1. So, if you’re using 2 cups of onions, use 1 cup carrots and 1 cup celery.
Start by chopping all the vegetables into roughly the same size, so they cook at the same speed. Generally, the smaller they’re cut, the more aroma and flavor you’ll be able to pull from them. Next, you’ll cook your vegetables in butter over low heat, careful not to burn or brown! You’re looking for soft, translucent veggies that bring out their sweet flavors rather than caramelized. Once the mirepoix is finished cooking, you can build on with other ingredients for your sauce, including stock, vegetables or proteins.
How to Use It:
Chicken soup is a classic example of how to use your mirepoix, but it will work in a number of stews, soups, braises and dishes. Perfect for chicken stock using the bones from a whole chicken, or delicious when cooked in the fat of your meat while making a sauce.
Mirepoix is the French variation of this aromatic base, but cuisines from around the world have their own versions. From the Italian Soffritto that uses oil instead of butter and minces rather than dices the vegetables to Spanish Sofrito which adds tomatoes and other vegetables to create a red sauce base, these vegetable variations add an umph to the base of dishes from around the world.
Once cooked, allow your mirepoix to cool. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. OR, put it in a zip freezer bag, flatten out and freeze for up to a month, breaking off small pieces to start recipes.
Article by Local Roots NYC Volunteer Sylvie Florman
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