Know how to make mirepoix? You will after reading this.
In a previous article, I wrote about some of the challenges of making stock with wild game. In that article, I advocated the use of mirepoix, (meer-pwah) to put some bang in your wild game recipes.
Here’s a how to for making and using mirepoix.
Common Uses For Mirepoix
Mirepoix is a key part to many Cajun and Creole dishes such as gumbo, shrimp creole, jambalaya, and dirty rice.
In your soups, stews, and chili, mirepoix adds volume and thickness while boosting flavor. I also use mirepoix as a beginning for many sauces, casseroles, and baked beans.
Trinity of Taste
The mixture is known in cooking circles as “the trinity,” because the flavors so well compliment one another. Together, they take on an almost neutral quality.
Mirepoix is not meant to be a main flavor in a dish, just a platform for the featured ingredients to thrive.
In the Mix
The actual ingredients of mirepoix vary from kitchen to kitchen.
- Onion and the celery are pretty well staples
- For some, the third ingredient is a mild, sweet pepper such as bell pepper
- For others, the third ingredient is carrots
- Still others use both bring the total to four ingredients (A quadrality?)
The good news is that the fresh ingredients are commonly available. Also, more cooks must be catching on, because I am starting to see mirepoix mixes in the frozen vegetables section.
The best advice I have on the subject comes from the famed New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme and involves more about amounts than actual ingredients. According to Prudhomme, no matter which combination of vegetables you use, the onion ratio should be 2:1 with any other ingredient.
For example, if you use my recipe which includes celery and bell pepper, you would prepare 2 Cups chopped onions, 1 Cup of celery, and 1 Cup of bell pepper. If I added carrots as a fourth, I would still use 1 Cup.
Mirepoix in the Kitchen
Another grand thing about mirepoix is how easy it is to use and how many ways it can be used.
- For a soup, you can boil raw mirepoix with whatever other ingredients you plan to use.
- For a sauce or a stew, I start off by cooking the mirepoix with a little oil until the water is cooked off, the vegetables are clear, and the flavor is intense.
- For a gumbo, near the end of cooking the roux, I add the mirepoix vegetables to cook with it.
- To use as the basis of a game stock, heat a little oil, layer the vegetables, and then the bones or meat you want for you stock, cover tightly and simmer. Stir only often enough to keep it from sticking. This steaming draws the flavor out of the stock materials.
And I’m sure I’ve only begun to discover the different ways to make use of this goodness. Here’s a keeper:
Wild Game Dirty Rice
Dirty rice is a staple in the Cajun kitchen. It comes as a side or as a main course. The origin of many of these dishes were exploring ways to make the best out of wild game.
Dirty rice can work with any game, especially darker cuts like venison, duck, dove, or goose.
If you have some wild game sausage, brown 1 pound in a Dutch oven. Next, add your mirepoix vegetables, plus a bay leaf, at the end. The moisture from the vegetables will simmer off those brown bits stuck to the bottom. The smell is heavenly.
Once your mirepoix is cooked down until the vegetables are clear, add rice, water, and salt according to the package directions and cover tightly. Cook for the amount of time the package indicates.
At the end of the appointed time, take the dutch oven off of the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. DO NOT open that lid until the time is up. When that lid does come off you will not regret waiting.
If you do not have sausage made up either grind or chop your game and brown it that way. You will need to add some oil as wild game has little or no fat. You will also add more seasoning than you would when using a pre-seasoned sausage. The end result is just as good.
If you have not already, you will not regret experimenting with mirepoix. People will wonder what changed, but they will wonder while they rush to your dinner table.