Mirepoix with Bacon
Answer: Hi Pat,
Thanks for writing in with your question. You must be thinking of mirepoix, the classic combination of diced carrots, celery and onions that is used to add flavor to sauces, soups, stews and other dishes.
The correct pronunciation is meer pwah, which is pretty easy for most native English speakers to get their mouth around.
This mixture of vegetables was supposedly first used and perfected by Duke Lévis-Mirepoix's chef in the 18th century. So the duke is remembered for the chef's work.
Some sources say that the classic proportions for this mix are 50 percent onion, 25 percent carrot and 25 percent celery, but one certainly does not have to respect this ratio. The vegetables are cut all the same size, which could vary from finely diced to larger cubes. It all depends on how fast you need the vegetables to soften and release their flavors. Herbs such as bay leaf and thyme as well as a little seasoning might be added. The mixture is then typically cooked on low heat in a small amount of butter or oil before being incorporated into another preparation.
After the vegetables have released all of their flavor, the mirepoix is many times strained from the final preparation. This would be true for example if you were making a sauce or a clear soup.
Sometimes ham or lean bacon is included in the vegetable mix. This preparation, which could be referred to as a matignon. is typically served as part of the final dish.
Another French term that you might be thinking of is brunoise (pronounced broon wahz). This is actually a cut of vegetable which can be used when preparing a mirepoix. The vegetables are typically julienned (cut in thin strips) then turned 90 degrees and sliced to form a very finely and evenly diced preparation.
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Well Pat, now that you probably know more than you ever wanted to about the subject, I hope you have a most wonderful day!
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