How to cook with mirepoix as a base

Mirepoix is a weird word that refers to a common, versatile recipe starter. There are variations, but usually a mirepoix consists of onion, carrot, and celery, diced and cooked in butter or oil. A Cajun mirepoix foregoes the use of carrots in favor of bell peppers. This is known as the holy trinity of Cajun cooking. Variations on this theme include the addition of leaks, parsley, or other aromatic herbs. A sofrito (soffritto) is a similar concept used in various Latin cuisines, and highlights the use of onion, tomato, garlic, and olive oil. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Classic Mirepoix

1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon butter

On medium heat, warm the butter and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 5-10 minutes.

Cajun Mirepoix

1 medium onion
1 red bell pepper
2 celery stalks
1 tablespoon lard or oil

Beginner level: On medium heat, warm the lard and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Dice the bell pepper and celery and add, cooking for 5-10 minutes. 

Pro level: On medium heat, warm the lard and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Meanwhile, scorch the skins of the red bell pepper on a high flame. Let cool and then gently remove the skin. Slice open and remove the seeds inside. Then dice and add to the pot with the celery. Cook for 5-10 minutes. 

Sofrito (Soffritto)

1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. olive oil

I call for double the oil here because olive oil is sticky and prone to smoking. As such, you should be careful not to cook on too high a flame. You can also use half olive oil and half vegetable oil, which makes for a good combo. 

Cook the onions until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic, tomatoes, coriander, and bay leaves and cook for another 5-10 minutes. 

The main takeaway is this: there are endless possibilities and also many traditions (culinary frameworks). Consider your goals, your constraints, and your audience. And have fun with it. 

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