The Magic of Mirepoix

Mirepoix should be the foundation for every pot roast, soup, gumbo or sauce that you make. 
So what is a mirepoix? Minced aromatic vegetables sauteed in oil and butter is the first step in any of these recipes. The fragrance alone is worth the trouble but what it does to enliven the flavor and nutrition to any dish is the bonus.

Mirepoix is a French term and it is believed that the French first discovered and taught this cooking lesson. It has a different name in Italy and Spain, each with slightly different combinations, and in Louisiana, it is called the holy trinity (small caps so as to avoid sacrilege). I first learned mirepoix when I was learning to make gumbo...it’s what goes on top of the hot roux after the roux is properly darkened. The fragrance literally explodes from the skillet and saturates the kitchen in goodness. I have had people arrive from upstairs to see what was cooking after the addition of the mirepoix.

Since the “holy trinity” consisted of minced onion, celery and bell pepper (green of course), that has always been my version of mirepoix. But you can substitute carrots or tomatoes for the bell pepper. Or you can try it all in one for a quintuplet mirepoix. After the mixture is well-softened, throw crushed garlic on top. But never start with the garlic. You will turn it bitter if cooked along with the other vegetables.

In some cases, especially for soups and roasts, I add a half of a small can of tomato paste and a little wine or bourbon before the crushed garlic goes in.

So with the mirepoix, you have not only added flavor but some wonderful nutrients as well. Now you’re cookin’, sister!

JVF