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Mirepoix

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've been watching Tyler Florence and for several soups and stews I've seen him take all the veggies of the mirepoix and zap them in the food processor raw, then sautee them in the pot, and then add liquid. What do you think of this method?

I have tried putting in the vegetables whole and cover with water. I have tried dicing them and sauteeing with a little olive oil. I have roasted them and then covered with liquid.

What is the best method?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 25
It's fine. A number of chefs that I know and know of use the same technique. FWIW, I saw Lidia Bastianich do the same thing on one of her PBS shows just a few days ago. It's just another method of chopping the veggies.

Best? It just depends on what result you want, what you're making.
post #3 of 25
If you pulse the machine instead of letting it run you merely chop the veggies small. If you leave the machine running, you can actually liquify them.

As Shel notes, though, there is no "best." It depends on your end use. If, for instance, you're going to puree the soup at the end, it shouldn't matter if the mirepoix is liquidy to begin with. After all, you're just looking for the aromatics to give up their flavor. If, on the other hand, you want some tooth to the ingredients, you may want to just chop them.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 25
I have seen many things done on the food network that were contrary to what I have learned over the years. If you pulverize a MIREPOIX,it is difficult to start to saute as you are starting with a liquid in the pan. True it will evaporate put not till some of the veges are steamed. Yesterday I watched Alton Brown make his conception of a classic french omelette. If I had made it like that when I was serving my apprenticeship, the chef would have hit me with a broom handle.True there are many ways to do anything, but dont say its a classic way and do not take all you see and here as gospel. One day while in New York I was told by the great Andre Soltner the owner and chef of the famed Lutece. "Ed he said remember none of us has really ever invented a recipe
,we have simply altered one which has already been done before by someone, somewhere".
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post #5 of 25
It's watery, the pieces are uneven and start with steam and cook unevenly.

There are times that's not a problem, but they're the exception.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 25
I think half the reason food processors became popular in restaurants was cranking out tons of mirepoix fast. It's not the "best" mirepoix, but it's certainly functional. The problem with fp mirepoix is it's hard to get anything other than very small, very even. And even sized is important. If the application allows for small mirepoix, than there you go.

Tyler Florence is showing you how to cook "properly" without breaking your back. He doesn't skip steps, but he keeps things as easy as possible. Within that context using the fp makes enormous sense. Unless I'm cranking out more than three onions worth, I'd rather make it with a knife -- because it's (a) easier for me; and (b) more rewarding. But when it comes to making small mirepoix which will be pureed in or strained out anyway -- it doesn't make a difference.

As was already said, care must be taken (weird subjunctive voices, no?).

Ed's points were all very good -- but the Alton Brown one was the one that had me tapping my foot and humming along. AB is a very odd duck. He's very good at television, and an interesting cooking teacher. But, he's not a very good cook. Ed and I react to him in the same way. Sometimes, he gets off into strange techniques and recipes without acknowledging the "real way" which not only worked successfully for a century or two but is the dish the student really wants to cook.

BDL
post #7 of 25
>Sometimes, he gets off into strange techniques and recipes without acknowledging the "real way" which not only worked successfully for a century or two but is the dish the student really wants to cook. <

Not to mention his dogmatic, my-way-or-the-highway attitude. Far too often he goes off on his Rube Goldberg flights of culinary fancy, and either implies (or says outright) that all other ways are the pits. Until he contradicts himself in the next episode.

Puleeeze!
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 25
>Unless I'm cranking out more than three onions worth, I'd rather make it with a knife -- <

I have to laugh about this. For years I would have nothing to do with a food processor. Why? Watching Friend Wife, who, admittedly is not a great cook, use hers.

She would actually take the thing down, assemble it (it was one of those Oster Kitchen Centers), and use it to chop one onion. Or even a half onion, if that's what the recipe called for.

Excuse me? Isn't that what God gave us knives for?

I mean, can you imagine going through all that bother, wasting all that time, and when you're done having to clean the d-mned thing?

I'm with you BDL. Food processors certainly have their place. But not when your prepping small quantities of food.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 25
I would like to know what AB did years ago before teflon was invented, and you are the first person I have heard mention Rube Goldberg in 20 years. I use his name all the time and nobody knows who I am talking about
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post #10 of 25
Re: Rube Goldberg

People need to watch more classic cartoons with all the crazy gizmos, contraptions and how they link together.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #11 of 25
[quote=KYHeirloomer;239588Not to mention his dogmatic, my-way-or-the-highway attitude. Far too often he goes off on his Rube Goldberg flights of culinary fancy, and either implies (or says outright) that all other ways are the pits. Until he contradicts himself in the next episode.

Puleeeze![/quote]

Well, I kind of like his dogmatism and opinionated point of view. Right or wrong, good or bad, it's much preferred to the wimps and wusses who can't think for themselves and waffle on many points. As for his Rube Goldberg contraptions, I like them as well, although I admit some are over the top. However, I'm sure he uses some to make a point and others provide fodder for ideas and giving me the impetus to think outside of conventional ways of doing things.
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Funny you should mention the Alton Brown omelette show because it really got me to make better omelettes. No I do not make absolutely certain that my pad of butter is at room temperature before I begin, but the darned things came out good for me so whoopeeee! As for his my-way-or-the-highway attitude I don't like it so much. He has his uses.

So basically I gather that it doesn't matter how you chop up your veggies for mirepoix.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #13 of 25
It matters that all the pieces are about the same size, and that the size chosen is appropriate for the use. For instance, if you're just throwing a bunch of mirepoix in the bottom of a pan for a long roast -- you want the pieces pretty big. If you're cooking a fairly quick sauce or soup, you want them pretty small. You want them about the same size so that everything is ready at about the same time.

That said, your casual attitude about mirepoix is healthy. You don't want to waste a lot of time sizing stuff.

BDL
post #14 of 25
the following is an article I wrote for a small newspaper, if anybody was interested in the science behind the mirepoix.

Traditional chicken broth chemistry


The recipe and chemistry described today is an ancient yet trusted French cooking technique called the mirepoix.

Dice one carrot, an onion and a celery stalk. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a skillet set on medium high heat. Add the diced vegetables. Do not cover. To succeed a mirepoix, you must cook out most of the water contained in the vegetables without browning them. Hint: listen to the sizzle. The sizzle is the noise water steam makes when it escapes the heated vegetables. During this process, oil enters into the voids the escaping steam leaves behind. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking, add oil as needed and reduce the heat gradually. When the sizzle becomes very weak and the vegetables are soft, take the pan off the heat. The mirepoix process can take up to 30 minutes. Transfer the cooked vegetables into a pot. Add one chicken carcass (bones, neck, skin and trimmings). Fill with fresh water to cover the bones. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Maintain a slow simmer until the chicken carcass falls apart easily (about 2 hours). Strain the hot broth. It will taste surprisingly bland. Cool then refrigerate overnight. Remove most of the solidified fat. Leave some behind for added richness. Freeze in ice cubes to store.

Now for the chemistry: Vegetables are mostly water and sugars. Unlike white sugar, yet chemically similar, these sugars are bound to each other like scaffolding giving vegetables their rigidity. When these structures are heated correctly they breakdown in their individual sugar units. Since they resist boiling water yet overreact when exposed to slightly higher heat by caramelizing, the window between those temperature limits is where these structures breakdown controllably. Boiling water never exceeds 100 C (212F) but oil easily does. The narrow temperature range can be attained by first having the vegetables lose their water soak up oil while avoiding browning. The liberated sugar units prevented from caramelizing, are maintained in a reactive state. Here lies the chemistry secret of the mirepoix technique.

Although these reactive sugars have flavour enhancing abilities of their own, the science does not end here. These reactive compounds, called reducing sugars, attack the links of amino acid necklaces i.e. proteins. This reaction, called hydrolysis, liberates free amino acids including glutamic acid and glutamate, giving this broth plenty of umami characteristics. An exceptional flavour enhancer for any recipe that’s worth the trouble making in my kitchen.


Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #15 of 25
As long as the vegetables are appropriately sized for the task and sized similarly.

It might be worthwhile to mention the clasic proportions in a mirepoix: 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery. That said, how many of us actually follow those proportions? I saw a container of pre-made mirepoix in a specialty market, and it did not follow the classic proportions. It was 1:1:1
post #16 of 25
I've played around with MP formulations over time (at home and work) and have been "married" to various sizes of dice, ratios of veg, degree of sweating/browning over this time. I expect that will continue. That said, I've never warmed up to the food processor. I think it comes down to this: "hash" your mirepoix in a robo. Leave it alone for a few minutes. Smell. How's that onion working for you?

For me (and I'm talking home use right now) I've developed a a good "production" mirepoix centered on dehydrating the veg (tossed in oil with a "bouquet garni" infusion) that I portion up and freeze. A couple of hours work and a you get a good, developed, flavour base that you cab whip out into any number of preparations. Not premium, but way better than average.

Out of curiosity, how many of you are still using the classic ratio of MP? I've seen many many people omit celery altogether. I've personally subed out the the stalks for celery root but have found it too potent for stock, only useful for specific use sauces and the like.

--Al
post #17 of 25
I'm still using one medium onion to one med carrot and one stalk celery or 2:1:1 by volume. Sometimes I'll go with the "trinity" or other combinations for ethnic cooking -- but for most of my cooking, I like the "classic" proportions.
post #18 of 25
Not being a food scientist, LucH pretty much outlined what I thought, that the higher temp oil has a major role in the whole process. I only know from observation that the process s/he descibes results in say, soup veggies that retain their peak color and texture whereas tossing mire poix directly into a pot of water results in dull colored, mushy veggies. I have often thought that maybe the oil seals the cut cells to stop oxidation and keep the texture more firm, but again have no science to back up this theory.
post #19 of 25
>how many of you are still using the classic ratio of MP?<

I don't measure it, but by eyeball I try to maintain the classic proportions. Using a fair sized onion, a carrot, and a celery rib comes pretty close.

>you are the first person I have heard mention Rube Goldberg in 20 years. <

That can't be right, Ed. After all, I'm only 16 years old. What I don't understand, though, is when I shave in the morning and look in the mirror, who is that old man wearing my pajamas? :confused:
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #20 of 25
Grey,

You've got a completely wrong idea on "soup veggies."

For one thing, the mirepoix in Luc's recipe aren't "soup veggies." Luc's recipe was for stock. Stock is meant to be strained until fairly clear (at least) and the vegetables -- as well as anything else caught in the strainer, discarded.

If you want "soup veggies," you add them when you're making soup. That is, when the stock is already completed and the first set of vegetables discarded. I know the linguistic distinction between "stock" and "soup" is blurry, but trust me on the preparation if not the semantics. A "stock" is not made to be served as is, but as an ingredient in something else. Your chicken soup may be no more than vegetables and chicken stock, but that's how you do it. The vegetables which flavored the stock have given their all already. If those vegetables were served to you, you were poorly served.

Luc's recipe was for a sort of blond (aka "light," aka "fond blanc") stock , as opposed to "fond burn" (aka "glace de poulet," aka "dark," aka "roast chicken stock"). In brown stocks, including roast chicken stock, the mirepoix or at least part of it, is slightly browned and almost always in the oven. Anytime anything is browned by sauteing, the vessel used for the saute is almost always either deglazed and the deglaze incorporated in the next step, or the vessel itself is used to cook whatever comes next. The bits of protein and sugars which attach to the pan from the heat of the saute are a cook's pure gold. I guess Luc put in the switch to get rid of the oil he used to sweat the vegetables, but am not sure.

Incidentally, the technique Luc employed was "sweating," not sauteing the vegetables. A saute is a specific process with a fair bit of heat and agitation.

Finally, if you look at twenty different recipes for making ordinary chicken stock, and throw in Escoffier, Pellaprat, Julia Child, or any other "authority," Luc's will probably be the only one which calls for sauteing the mirepoix. I'm not saying the pre-cook isn't a good idea or even a great one. Sweating the vegetables first is an old trick for intensifying their flavors, but it's not something you see in ordinary chicken stock -- where chicken is usually the predominant flavor desired. Great as a base for soup, no doubt.

Unfortunately, your hypothesis that the sweat (or even a saute) prevents oxidation in the soup, thereby causing the vegetables to retain color and texture isn't correct either. In fact, if you look back at Luc's instructions he called for cooking the vegetables for up to half an hour, until they were completely soft (presumably in order to change the molecular structure in their little interiors). You can imagine what they'd be like after a further two hours simmering. But your mistake goes back to the broader point. Stock is an "extraction." The idea is to get as much as possible from whatever is in the pot, into the stock. If you leave any flavor at all in your ingredients, you're not doing it right. Luc's method makes the extraction process really crank.

Remember, if you want "soup veggies," you get them making soup, not stock. Simply cut them in regular sized pieces and simmer them in the soup until they are done exactly as you like them.

BDL
post #21 of 25
I'm just referring to how I make things. I use a mire poix in nearly every type of soup I make. I don't necessarily use a stock for all of them. If I am making navy bean or split pea soup for instance, I will take the mire poix and cook it off in some oil (for these soups it would be bacon fat) with faily high heat without allowing it to brown, a little more aggressive than a sweat. I then add the liquid and the peas or beans along with a ham bone. These are the "soup veggies" I am referring to.
post #22 of 25
precisely the technique: preventing the browning. If the veggies brown you lose amino acids and reactive sugars hence lose taste. The mirepoix technique is to heat decompose the veggie's tissue (complex carbohydrates). If these sugars are left to react they will brown (caramelize) and you will lose their flavour enhancing properties.

One way to observe if the veggie's are well decompose is to observe the colour of the oil in the pan. If the oil has an orange or greenish tinge then the tissue cell walls of the carrots and celery have broken down releasing chlorophyl and carotenoids both oil soluble plant pigments.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #23 of 25
Pre-cooking them by sweating or sauteing them will not preserve them, it will only cause them to break down more quickly. The soup making process of long simmering will extract whatever flavor is in those vegetables and further break down the structure. The sweat or saute will alter the taste the vegetables give to the soup -- sweeter and less starchy -- but the soup will take it all. If what you want in your soup is tasteless, mushy vegetables you should, by all means, leave them in. If what you want is brightly colored, bright tasting vegetables with some texture to them, you need to add fresh and cook them just long enough to be done as you like.

I know how sensitive everyone gets about spelling. Please understand that I don't mean this as a put down, but mirepoix is one word.

BDL
post #24 of 25
I will respectfully agree to disagree. I only know what I was taught in culinary school and the results I have observed using both techniques. French is not a first language for me and I have always been highly annoyed that one needs to speak French in order to cook in the U.S., where last time I checked, the predominant language was English. Subject of course to change without notice. I appeciate the correction and do not consider it a put-down.
post #25 of 25
Your post and correct me if I am wrong states a bean or pea soup whereas the mirepoix is actually reduced to a puree and adds to the body of the soup. I do mine like you and as far as the veges, as long as they are not carmelized the outcome is fine. As far as speaking French I agree with you. I feel one of the few things we learned from them was what to do with veges. As far as the sauces etc. in a lot of cases they had no refrigeration and food was smoked or salted and had to be hidden in some way .One thing I noticed in France as well as any other country I have been to. As far as FOOD PRODUCTION in a kitchen, nobody comes close to us.
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