This recipe is a a stepping stone in creating other dishes. Slowly sautéing the finely chopped vegetables in butter releases sweetness from the carrots and onions, balanced by the celery and imparts a wonderful aroma and flavor to your further creation.
A combination of two parts onion, one part each of celery and carrots is chopped fine into 1/4 inch dice. The best way to accomplish this is to first slice the vegetables 1/4 inch thick, next slice them into 1/4 inch strips which is called “julienne” and finally cross cut the strips into fine dice.
Since carrots, onions and celery are all readily available and pretty inexpensive, this will be an excellent time to practice your chopping skills with the fancy expensive knives you treated yourself to and meticulously sharpened. At least if you are a cooking geek – like me.
Mirepoix is a great flavor enhancer to use in soups, stews, stocks, stuffings as well as recipes that do not start with the letter “s” – though I can’t think of any at the moment.
Classically the dice is about 1/4 inch but depending on what you are using it in you can go larger (stocks) or finer to garnish soups and consommés. Really fine dice like 1/8 inch is called brunoise for delicate sauces and soups where you are trying to avoid chunky texture.
Mirepoix is cooked in butter at low to medium heat until it is soft and aromatic. You can use oil as well and even roast the vegetables if you are looking to get some color in the food you are cooking. Just be careful as too much browning as well as too long a cooking time can impart bitterness.
If you swap bell peppers for the carrots it is called “the holy trinity” which is used in creole and cajun cooking like gumbo or jambalaya. It is also useful for Mexican cuisine.
Soffritto is the Italian version with olive oil instead of butter and the addition of garlic and sometimes tomato. This is also used in Spanish and Portuguese cooking.
Suppengrun is the German version which often has leeks and celery root instead of celery stalks. Some version of this is also used in Polish, Hungarian, Czech and other eastern European kitchens.
Well enough with my blabbering and lets get cooking!