Yea, I know what you’re thinking; get your mind out of the gutter for 5 minutes… For those that don’t know what mirepoix [mir-pwah] is, let’s just say that it is the foundation of anything worth eating. Even though mirepoix is a French term, to me it sounds Indian; maybe Aldo the Apache is a direct descendant of Mirepoix….
Mirepoix is defined in “The Professional Chef” Ninth Edition, by my alma mater, as “a French name for a combination of onions, carrots, and celery, but it is not the only such combination, even within the French Culinary Repertoire. Mirepoix and similar aromatic vegetable combinations are intended to provide a subtle but pleasing background flavor, supporting and improving the flavor of the finished dish.” Got all that? It isn’t as confusing as it sounds.
Basically, traditional mirepoix is a compilation of aromatics that consists of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot and 1 part celery that the French use as the base for almost everything. As the definition clearly states, there are variations to traditional mirepoix:
White mirepoix is equal parts onions, celery, parsnips and leeks that are used for stocks and soups that are pale in color.
A Matignon is comprised of 2 parts onion, carrots, and ham to 1 part celery with a sprig of fresh thyme and 1 bay leaf. This combination serves two purposes, to embellish flavor as well as to serve as garnish.
Asian Aromatics is a ratio of 2 parts garlic and ginger to 1 part green onion. This combination is in every Asian dish known to man.
The Cajun Trinity is a mix of 2 parts onion to 1 part each of celery and bell pepper. If you watched that famous Chef from New Orleans on Food Network, you know the one that Anthony Bourdain referred to as a Ewok; E uses the Cajun Trinity in EVERYTHING.
My Chef Instructors at the CIA stressed every day that great food is achieved by paying attention to details, no matter how small they are. Mirepoix is one detail that mustn’t ever be skipped.