Yesterday, my friend Yvonne suggested I give my sick friend a bit of chicken livened up with a Mirepoix. Now, I didn’t know if a mirepoix was a dirty joke, or a splash of hooch but neither would have been good for a recovering heart patient.
Mirepoix. I loved the way the word slithered off my tongue. So I did some investigating and have expanded my vocabulary. I’ll be using it daily – as in “Come on over for a pot of mirepoix and frog legs.” My circle of friends won’t have a clue what to expect.
A mirepoix (pronounced mihr-PWAH – not ‘mirror poise’ – the way I assumed it was spoken) is a mixture of diced vegetables – carrots, onions and celery (sometimes with ham or bacon), usually sauteed slowly in butter or oil. It is said to have been created in the 18th century by the chef of the Duc de Levis-Mirepoix in France.
Mirepoix is used to flavor stews, soups, stocks, etc. The usual mixture is 50 percent onions, and 25 percent each carrots and celery. Add flour and you have a roux.
I’m more familiar with the Cajun or Creole version which we always called The Holy Trinity when I lived in the Big Easy. It consists of onions, celery and green bell peppers and is the basis for almost everything we cooked down there. The amount of onions is not as much as the classic French Mirepoix, but in Cajun preparations typically it is an equal portion of each ingredient in a 1:1:1 ratio.
Just like the ole saying “First you start with a roux….” the same is true with the Holy Trinity, most Cajun preparations use a trio of onions, celery and green bell peppers as a starter for gumbos, etouffees, jambalaya’s, sauce piquants, shrimp stews, crab soup, oyster artichoke soup, red beans and rice, and the list goes on.
The Eye-talian version is called “soffritto,” which purportedly means “friends under oil.”
So now you know. You probably knew already, but I’m just not that sophisticated.