Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Miracle of Mirepoix

Roughly chopped mirepoix serves two purposes - soups and stuffing

Not much thought is given to the trio, but it can be a lifesaver.  If you're making soup or stuffing, you cannot have either without it.  It's the simple savory mix that separates a "meh"  from a "mmmmoh my!" My husband made a ridiculously good roasted chicken last night.  Even after we had all eaten our fill, there was just too much meat left on the bones to throw out (although the neighborhood cats and Maggie would disagree), so he decide to boil the carcass and pick out the bones for me so I could make a soup later in the week.  I will probably post something about it later, so keep reading.

Anyway, if you don't know what mirepoix is, don't worry.  I didn't either until I took over holiday cooking several years ago (my MIL is a HORRIBLE cook) and made the fatal mistake of shopping the day before Thanksgiving.  Almost everything I needed for stuffing was gone! Not one bag of bread cubes, carrots, or celery could be found!  I was contemplating replacing the stuffing with broccoli and cauliflower au gratin when I saw it - a cleverly packaged, over-priced bag of pre-chopped carrots, celery, and onions.  I have never bought it since, but I've used it hundreds of times in my kitchen.

I usually buy a bag of onions, carrots, and celery weekly, but if I need to replenish my mirepoix stock or if I am making a large batch of soup or stuffing, I will buy 2 of each.  One pound of carrots, a small bunch of celery and about 3 medium-sized onions will yield one quart-sized freezer bag plus enough for the soup or stuffing.  Here are a few tips for making mirepoix:

  1. Slice the carrots and celery.  Although you will need to pulse it in the food processor (it's faster than chopping) if it's going in stuffing, you will want carrot coins and celery slices for soup.  
  2. Don't even bother slicing the onions.  Simply peel of the outer skin, quarter, and pulse a few times in the food processor.  
  3. Mix thoroughly in bag by turning and gently shaking the bag.  Make sure you use a quality freezer bag and that it is sealed completely, otherwise you will end up with a mess on your kitchen floor.  I used the Hefty One Zip today and a few pieces of onion were stuck on the "track" and I wound up dumping about 1/4 cup on the floor before I realized what had happened.  Label and freeze for future use.  Sometimes, if I remember and have the time, I will spread the mirepoix out on a baking sheet and flash freeze it before bagging.  This should be done every time so you don't wind up with a giant block of mirepoix that you have to bang on the counter to break apart.
  4. A good ratio is 2-1-1: 2 cups of carrots to 1 cup of celery and 1 cup of onion.  I tend to go a little heavier on onion because I happen to like it, but this is a good place to start.
Hefty One-Zip quart-size freezer bags protect the mirepoix from  freezer  burn and  are  really convenient

A quality stock, leftover chicken or ground hamburger, a can of tomatoes, mirepoix, a few spices, and rice is all you really need to throw together one of the best frugal, filling and comforting foods.

Salt, cooking wine, pepper, and a little poultry seasoning prepare the mirepoix for tomorrow's chicken soup

UPDATED 5/9/2011

I added the bowl of mirepoix and about 1 1/2 cups of wild rice to the pot of chicken stock and  meat and simmered it for about 2 hours.


No comments:

Post a Comment