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Mirepoix - what's the point?

So, upon years of thought, I've decided to ask the question: what does a Mirepoix actually add to a recipe?

I get the onions. That's easy. The carrots? Sure, why not? Celery? No. No, I do not understand. It tastes of little and, in any recipe calling for a Mirepoix, stews and whatnot, that delicate flavour is easily lost. So, then, I ask, what is the point of it? Fibre? Surely not.

Members of this board: please enlighten me.

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  1. it definitely adds a grassy note. try cooking 2 pots of the same dish, one with and one without. they will not be exactly the same

    4 Replies
    1. re: thew

      Oddly enough, I just used some mirepoix tonight that I made about 6 months ago and froze without ever trying it. I made a soup with just a few ingredients: homemade chicken stock, chopped Black Forest ham, cauliflower and green onions. I thickened it with a simple roux of flour and water, a dab of cream and about 1/2 cup of mirepoix. Without the mirepoix it would have been fairly bland, but the mirepoix gave it a wonderful depth of flavor that was truly amazing. My husband almost jumped out of his chair, it was so rich and delicious. I'm sure it would also be wonderful added to a beef stew. It was definitely worth the work of making it.

      1. re: feghoot

        Was your frozen mirepoix raw, uncooked, or had you cooked a large batch, then frozen it? Did you add your mirepoix at the end of the recipe (you imply you did, because you say you thickened the soup with mirepoix), or did you start your soup with mirepoix, as is more traditional?

        Sounds like a good, simple, yet flavorful soup.

        1. re: foreverhungry

          I had cooked quite a bit and then froze it. I simmered the cauliflower and green onions in the chicken broth for a few minutes, then added the mirepoix and simmered some more. I then made the roux and stirred that in until it was thickened a bit and then just let it simmer on very low heat for about 1/2 hour to "marry" the flavors. No recipe, just guessing!

    2. Mirepoix is an aromatic and I believe the proper ratio is 2 parts onion, 1 part carrots, 1 part celery. It's as basic to cooking as salt and pepper. Celery definitely has a unique flavor profile and if anything I might not notice the carrots. Even in stews I can taste a hint of the mirepoix.
      If you were to make a basic chicken stock what would you use?

      38 Replies
      1. re: monku

        Well, in fairness, not every stew or braise requires a Mirepoix. Most Indian, for example.

        As taught, I would use a basic Mirepoix to make a stock, but one must question that which doesn't make sense. Because it's always been the case doesn't make it necessary. Is this application still useful?

        Without meaning to cause offense, monku, I very much disbelieve you, or anyone else, can taste the celery. Or the carrots, for that matter, but the celery is my main point. They just seem to add a certain physical girth to the recipe, and as such, can easily be discarded.

        1. re: Leibowitz

          No offense taken.
          Maybe you can't taste celery.

          1. re: monku

            I can definitely taste celery. Serve me a dish with it and I know as soon as I put it in my mouth.

            1. re: monku

              i can always taste the celery. the carrot adds a touch of sweetness. but its the combo of the three that adds a base of rich flavor

            2. re: Leibowitz

              Doesn't the carrot at a touch of sweetness to the stock?

              1. re: viperlush

                Making chicken broth/stock/soup doesn't require a "mirepoix", you do use the same ingredients - I have made broth without celery and with celery - I could most definitely taste the difference! I hate cooked celery - but I like the flavor that it gives to the soup - it is kind of grassy as thew said above.

                1. re: harryharry

                  Yes, if I'm making stock I wouldn't bother with a mirepoix - I just stick in onion, carrot and celery (branch celery or celeriac). I use it more for stews and braised dishes.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    Whereas I put NOTHING in the pot other than chicken "parts" and water. I like my stock to be totally plain so I can take it anywhere I want :)

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Oh, I do that too. It depends on what I'm using it for.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        I make a couple of gallons at a time and then freeze so it's just easier for me to have all of it plain.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          That would be impossible for me to do, as my fridge and freezer are very small (and deliberately so; no point in huge equipment for one middle-aged person and one elderly cat), and I make most of my broth or stock in a small crockpot (almost the original one, but with a removable, really washable ceramic liner). There is some simmering right now and I did do it with celery, a carrot and an onion. Duck bones, smoked turkey leg bone, and a few chicken legs that are already fully cooked, bones stripped, bones and skin back in the pot.

                          All will be skimmed and stored tomorrow morning. In Montréal, even though it is a mild night, not much problem cooling the stock for the freezer!

                          1. re: lagatta

                            I put two cups each in zipping bags and freeze them lying flat. Then I stand them up in a box in the freezer. It's an itty-bitty upright that I use mostly for stock(s) and LARGE hunks of meat. Only two of us. We can't put anything outside cause the should-be-hibernating bears are out and about cause it's so warm :(

                            1. re: lagatta

                              I would love some time with a beloved cat and something simmering in a crockpot. Sounds lovely.

                  2. re: Leibowitz

                    so now everyone else has the same tastebuds as you do? do you also seriously doubt that people like music you don't like?

                    if you can't taste it, fine. calling me a liar for saying i do taste it? not fine.

                    again - cook 2 stocks , one w/ one w/out.. and see

                    1. re: thew

                      With all apologies necessary, I did not call you a liar.

                      1. re: Leibowitz

                        if i say i can taste it (and i did) and your response is :".... I very much disbelieve you, or anyone else, can taste the celery." it pretty much amounts to exactly that.

                        1. re: thew

                          For what it's worth, sensing this sort of thing is more the job of the nose than the mouth. Unlike the mouth, which only has a few kinds of receptors that sense different chemicals, the nose has thousands, each of which is coded for by a different gene. Everybody has most, but not all, of these genes, which means that everybody has scents that they can't smell. If you sit around for long enough with vials of individual scent compounds, you can figure out what your own blind spots are. Leibowitz may not be able to smell the (fairly subtle) compounds from the celery, although most people can 'taste' them if they're paying attention.

                          1. re: GilaB

                            That's my point. Celery has a very subtle flavour, easily overwhelmed in the most popular applications of French Mirepoix.

                            1. re: Leibowitz

                              I don't think celery's flavor is particularly subtle.

                              1. re: Leibowitz

                                really? to me celery has a very distinct, sharp and green flavor. not subtle at all.

                                ETA Oh jeez, just realized how old this is. that's what i get for reading CH on my phone.

                            2. re: thew

                              thew, I was not even responding to your comment. Again, all necessary apologies for any misunderstanding.

                        2. re: Leibowitz

                          I can taste it, because I didn't used to like celery in anything when I was younger, and now I do. There is definitely a difference. As for the assertion that one can't taste the carrots -- well, YMMV, but to me that's just c-r-a-z-y! I find carrots have a very strong flavor and a definite, sometimes overpowering sweetness.

                          Another thought: could it be you're using very old celery? Celery that is greener and fresher has a much stronger flavor than packaged white celery. Just a thought. In any case, if you cannot taste a difference, just omit the ingredients you don't need. But I'll continue to use my carrots and celery!

                          1. re: visciole

                            I was thinking it was old celery, too. Fresh celery has a heady smell, to me, and adds a nice flavor but often what you buy in grocery stores isn't fresh. If you drive by a celery field, you'll get a big whiff of it.

                            1. re: chowser

                              How lucky you are to have driven past a celery field and gotten a big whiff! Where was/is this?

                              1. re: blue room

                                Salinas, Ca. I worked for a couple of large agricultural companies and it was the first time I appreciated celery--being driven by the fields and then given a piece fresh out of the field. It's why, when people put down celery, I think they probably haven't had it fresh from the field. That and brussel sprouts.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Nobody has!! Same with iceberg lettuce, it tastes unbelievable when you've had it fresh from the fields.....

                                  Best Whopper I ever had was in Salinas, and it no doubt was the lettuce and tomato they used.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Fresh brussels sprouts are lovely. It is sad how many people have experienced them, as overaged, overcooked sadness.

                                      1. re: sr44

                                        I thought brussels sprouts were one of those vegetables that actually benefitted from a frost. I've seen stalks still in snow-covered gardens in Germany waiting to be harvested.

                                        1. re: nemo

                                          they are -- they get sweeter after a frost, as do parsnips

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      And even - eek- broccoli. But with broccoli it helps that the field is in a colder climate than California or Arizona

                                  2. re: chowser

                                    Fresh is better in most enterprises, but I am a simple cook. So I say: Celery, even old, dried up celery that has languished at the bottom of the crisper drawer is better than no celery at all. I have made stocks and sauces that prefer celery without it because it was too late in the day (or I was too lazy to go to the store to get some) and, when I have done that, I could tell it was missing. I don't care for the taste or smell of celery as a stand alone but I hate to be without it; sorta like I hate the smell and price of gasoline, but I would not want to drive without it.

                                    1. re: fiatlander

                                      I so totally disagree.

                                      I've been unable to find any celery in Sri Lanka or Singapore that wasn't disgustingly bitter. Awful, awful flavour! I won't go near it with a ten foot pole. I'll do without instead.

                                2. re: Leibowitz

                                  Celery has a very definite taste, and celery leaves have even more flavor. I think maybe you just don't taste them, but perhaps this is because you are making spicy foods? You mentioned Indian, which offers fabulous variations of stews with spices, but sometimes heat can mask basic flavors.

                                  Have you tried using Trinity for some recipes (onion, celery, bell pepper)? Not as delicate, but you can definitely taste it more than its French cousin in some dishes. Bell pepper may not be appropriate for some things, but perhaps this combination may be more flavorful to you.

                                3. re: monku

                                  As basic as salt and pepper? That's taking it a bit too far. A mire poix is nowhere near at that level of ubiquity.

                                  I make my chicken stock with chicken. If I want a chicken noodle soup, I'll add celery carrots and onion when I'm actually making the soup.

                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                    And if I want an Asian soup then I can add those flavors and would definitely not want the mirepoix flavors.

                                4. I believe the point of mirepoix is the underlying complexity that it lends to the stock. The point isn't to be able to pick out each flavor, but to have a broth with more depth.

                                  It's like so many other things where you're going for layers of flavor...I like to add a few shakes of a few different hot sauces when I make chili, for example, and while I can't pick out any one of them in particular, the overall flavor of the chili is more interesting.

                                  I have made stock with the full trinity of onions/carrots/celery and also just onions, and to my taste buds, using all three tastes significantly better. I play with other veggies too, sometimes adding leeks or garlic to the mirepoix.

                                  1. A sautéed vegetable mix like this is common through out the world, but the exact choice varies. This combination of onion, carrot and celery is basically French.
                                    From the wiki article:
                                    "Similar combinations, both in and out of the French culinary repertoire, may include leeks, parsnips, garlic, tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms, bell peppers, chilies, and ginger, according to the requirements of the regional cuisine or the instructions of the particular chef or recipe. The analagous soffritto (frequently containing parsley) is the basis for many traditional dishes in classic Italian cuisine, and the sofrito serves a similar purpose in Spanish cuisines. In Cajun cuisine, a mirepoix or (jocularly so-called) "holy trinity" is a combination of onions, celery and bell peppers."

                                    1. I sometimes make "All Purpose Gravy"--a 2003 recipe from Cook's Illustrated, from canned broth/stock and a mirepoix mix. It's not a disappointing substitute for "real" gravy at all.

                                      1. Celery adds not only a grassy note but the salty note. Recall that salt has been a heavily taxed commodity for much of history (most notoriously in much of France), so using sodium-rich ingredients was a thrifty way around this.

                                        Anyway, I find celery more important than carrot. The most common mistake I find it overuse of carrot.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          Ah, that makes sense. Thank you.

                                          1. If you feel that you can't taste the celery in a stock, then it should be impossible to "over-do" the celery in a stock.

                                            That is not the case.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jaykayen

                                              I've always disliked celery, in part because I find its flavor overpowering. I can't eat anything with raw or slightly cooked celery. The exception is some tomato sauces or stews in which it is cooked thoroughly, for a long time...and even then, I never use more than half a stalk. I do sometimes substitute fennel bulb when I want a celery like effect...without having to taste celery.

                                            2. I don't believe in cooking only by the rules. I follow the rules because they embody years of experience, but I can easily depart from them if my taste leads me in another direction. In the case of mirepoix, I can understand Leibowitz's hesitation and question. I think the answer lies in the complexity of flavors. But I don't think it is as straightforward as we might imagine.
                                              If you work with colors, they interact in complex ways--for example retinal fatigue from one color may affect your perception of another. Or to use another comparison, when I weave, I often use analagous color schemes. But I most often add a "zinger" from across the color wheel. It makes the closely-grouped analagous colors sing.
                                              Again, in music, you not only have harmonies based on the scale to consider, you also have contrasts in the "color" or different instruments playing the same note. Often a minor dischord or an unexpected instrumental color adds immeasurably to the total mix.
                                              The same in cooking. I dislike anchovies, but there are some dishes that I wouldn't cook without them. They become undercover agents that add to the harmonic mix.
                                              I may add clove to a vegetable soup. If it is strong enough to taste by itself, I've overdone it. But I can tell when it is missing. The slightly bitter flavor of celery has a similar function. If it stands out, it may be too much. But something is missing when it isn't there.
                                              In perfumery, there may be dozens of scents. A sensitive nose may pick out many of them, but a great many others fill out the body of the scent.
                                              Or a good wine may have a great many flavor and scent components. You can't pick out all of them. But without them, the wine would taste thin and mono-dimensional.
                                              For me a mirepoix provides body to a stock. And, truth to tell, sometimes I may elaborate on it, depending on the food. I may put garlic in one, or a bit of tomato paste, or perhaps a small amount of diced turnip, or even some fresh ginger. I don't want any of these ingredients to stand out. But I want the fullness they add to the flavor.

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                What you just wrote is like a beautiful piece of music. Plus it has technical savvy. What a great combination. I bet you and Sam had a great time together. I'm a teensy bit jealous :)

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  I agree with c oliver - that was an absolutely fantastic way to put it. It really gets the point across and gives some great insight to why cooking is not an exact science. Our flavor pallets are all individual and depending on what you are using your Mirepoix for, really depends on what you put into it. Thanks FK for the elegance you gave.

                                                2. re: Father Kitchen

                                                  One of the reasons the Cajuns call it part of their "Trinity".....

                                                    1. re: WCchopper

                                                      Thanks for the kudos, folks. I was about thirty years old when I began to move beyond recipe books, and I was really intimidated by herbs. Our monastery librarian used to come in and help me season the soup I'd make on my day on lunch and phone. She taught me to take out some of the broth and add a bit of herbs and then sample it. There were no rules and no suggestions as to what she thought would work. I'd just try herbs from our herb garden. Her main advice was to to think of the flavors as a musical chord. When I got into weaving and painting, I had color as another basis of comparison. So we can thank Feliska Woychehovska. It all turned out to be so simple.

                                                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                        FK - you do make it sound so simple. But to someone like me, it is still somewhat of a mystery. You have to have some creative style (I guess you could say "Art") and even my 6 year old grandson laughs at my drawings. I just pray I can keep some of that art going in food - I just won't draw!

                                                        1. re: boyzoma

                                                          I was always timid about dancing. In Uganda once, some friends asked me to dance. I told them I didn't know how. They replied, "You're human. Of course you can dance." So I just let the rhythm of the drums speak to me. Now, at liturgies in the U.S., I have to be careful about not dancing in place during the hymns. You can get a rough idea of what works together from patterns that show up in recipes. You can try to figure out layers of flavor in a dish you like. Then experiment with what you think you would work in something a bit different. You may go through a phase of adding some favorite flavor to everything. I had a soy sauce period and a curry period. Some people have barbecue sauce periods. I just came out of a dried-fruit-and-fresh-ginger period. (Now lemon grass and Thai basil are leering at me!) But without quite knowing it is happening, you move on to new things. All you need is to be aware of new possibilities and to have the nerve to experiment and push your limits a little bit at a time.

                                                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                            Whether dancing or cooking or living life, that last sentence sings (ha) to me.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Ditto here...that's great advice and exactly the way I've tried to live my life. Very eloquently said.

                                                              After all, life is to short to waste it just repeatedly experiencing the same old "same old".

                                                  1. In school, and now in work, I've learned that mirepoix is a base. You can follow the classic, or not. It all depends on what you want or in my case, what my current boss wants or in his case, what the customer wants. There are classic starters for every part of cuisine. We use them as a grounding to start from and to go back to when we lose our bearings. Standard ways to temper chocolate, the 5 "mother" sauces (tomato, hollandaise, bechamel, veloute, espagnole), standard base for ice cream, restaurant salt (75% salt ground together with 25% black pepper), the different colors of roux, the different sizes of knife cuts, mayo, sushi rice etc.

                                                    I look at mirepoix as a flavor I know and can change to suit my needs. It's also the main ingredient in vegetable stock, which is a main ingredient in vegetarian cuisine and healthy cooking in general.

                                                    There are different types of mirepoix (http://www.thekitchn.com/make-it-your...). Or, you can decide on your own. Whenever a recipe calls for mirepoix I just know that's a trinity of veg and I'll go from there.

                                                    Personally, I usually scrap the celery and replace it with something that's also green(ish) but not too overpowering.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: ChefHats

                                                      I appreciate the culinary explanation. Mirepoix is such an important base for establishing flavor, almost like it creates a structure for flavor. When I've prepared dishes with mirepoix and then prepare the same dish again but without the celery, I can always detect that the flavor is not as good.

                                                      Celery and parsley are underestimated. They make a sizable contribution but aren't flashy. Almost like soldiers.

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        I'll add an 'amen' to that, ml. It's only been in the last few years that I've discovered how important parsley is. I oftentimes don't have it on hand when I make Hazan's carbonara and, while still really tasty, I notice it.

                                                      2. re: ChefHats

                                                        I'm not overly fond of the taste of celery myself, cooked or uncooked, but have to admit it has a distinct peppery freshness to it that enhances other flavors. I often substitute green bell pepper for celery in many dishes.

                                                        In a mirepoix each of the ingredients adds something, the carrots a sweetness and overall vegetable flavor, the onion a sharp sweetness and depth, and as stated above the celery a peppery vegetable flavor.

                                                        1. re: ChefHats

                                                          We should have a thread on "culinary bases" - I mean this type of mix of finely-chopped vegetables. I often make something like the mirepoix described here, but also include mushrooms, and some of the stems of flatleaf parsley, very finely chopped.

                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                            I think the concept spans most cultures -- mirepoix, sofrito, etc....

                                                            Could be an interesting thread.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Actually, yes, yes it does. I've forgotten most of the terms, they're in one of my textbooks. Each culture and cuisine that we studied in International Cuisine had their own "holy trinity" base of veg.

                                                              1. re: ChefHats

                                                                I started a thread on this http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/929377 but so far, it is an orphan.

                                                                ChefHats, I always fear that when cookbooks tell home cooks to "discard" something (such as mushroom stems), that it will go straight into the bin in some homes.

                                                            2. re: lagatta

                                                              When we prep something in the kitchen, we usually keep a bucket of all the "non desirable" parts of veg to use in a vegetable stock. Overpowering scraps - such as rosemary stems - aren't often used, but other softer flavors are. Bits of mushrooms, parsley stems, dill stems, the bit of a bell pepper that doesn't always look like a perfect dice, the leftover corn cobs (if you have a large amount of these, you can boil them for awhile and then reduce the resulting liquid. We would then use that liquid to cook starches [most often grits], make foam sauces, make aspics), leftover salad greens that aren't pretty enough to serve but not yet gross enough to toss out, etc.

                                                              1. re: ChefHats

                                                                I usually have a bag in my freezer of leek tops, onion peels, carrot peels, celery trimmings, etc., that I throw into the pot when I make stock (there's another bag with wing tips, back bones, and carcasses...) All the stuff that isn't very nice to eat, but still adds flavor (and collagen in the case of the poultry parts).

                                                                They've been mistaken for garbage more than once, although I've managed to catch them before they hit the garbage or compost.

                                                          2. The French created mirepoix because they never could master sofrito...:)

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              LOL - man, don't repeat that in Paris!

                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                Gotcha. I won't be back to Paris until April, and I'll zip it. I have already been thrown out of France once, but Switzerland makes a fairly comfy lily pad to land on when a frog has to jump.
                                                                I meant no offense by my frog metaphor.
                                                                Actually, I did..

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  As far as I know Spanish sofrito, Italian one (2 f's and 2 t's), and our own Holy Trinity have owe their origins to the French mirepoix.

                                                                  1. re: foodster123

                                                                    as far as I know, this entire subthread was undertaken with tongue firmly in cheek.

                                                                    1. re: foodster123

                                                                      wondering what the basis is for this assumption? Although it may be true, this sort of sauteed vegetable base for stewed or soupy dishes is fairly prevalent in many cuisines, in Europe and elsewhere. And a lot of culinary concepts claimed by the french may have originated in italy, anyway.

                                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                                        And the Greeks might argue about some of those!

                                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                                    I think I mix both, and so much the better.

                                                                    1. Celery adds umami, so deepens many dishes.

                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                        Celery adds umami? Really? Do you have a citation for that please? That's a new one for me.

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          Yes, celery has natural glutamate and sodium nitrate. (I am NOT a scientist, unlike a couple of deeply regretted chowhounds - please correct any inaccuracies on my part). That is why it is used in so-called "natural" deli meats, as a preservative, and flavouring.

                                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                                            That's really good to know. Thanks.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              You are very welcome. The deeply regretted hounds with a scientific background were Sam Fugisaka and Mila Oh (Moh). http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7103...

                                                                            2. re: lagatta

                                                                              It's easy to find references to sodium nitrate in celery - though it is a concentrated form (juice reduced to powder) that is used in 'uncured' bacon. It's harder to find anything about its glutamate. Even carrots get more mention on umami lists. Tomatoes though are the vegetable heavyweight when it comes to umami.

                                                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                                                  it could be argued (to a very valid point...) that mushrooms are not vegetables (fruit, either, if we're going to define it)

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    Tomatoes are technically fruit not a vegetable, although there is some disagreement about that, but they make great ammo at the Tomatina festival in Spain every year!

                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                      Botanically they are a fruit. I'm not sure there is a botanical definition for vegetable. But as a matter of legal technicality, they are a vegetable - in the specific context of the Tariff of 1883.
                                                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nix_v._H...

                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                        which begs the question of whether we're going to define a vegetable by the horticultural definition or the tariff and excise definition.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          That's an easy one. Follow the money.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            The gist of the court ruling was that common usage trumps botanical - when it comes to things like tariffs. If a tomato is commonly sold and eaten as a vegetable than it can be taxed as such. Same goes for squashes (also fleshy seed containers), beans, and peas (seeds).

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              Coming to the party late, but it seems idiotic to me to suggest that a court ruling trumps biology. Science is. Weather taxes or religion consider various products fruits or vegetables or fish or minerals, whatever. But all species have a definition, based on science, even if the definition of a species isn't settled.

                                                                                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                The court ruling didn't change the scientific definition. It just said that in certain circumstances the common definition (or usage) applies rather than the scientific one.

                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                  somehow I'm not thinking the tax authorities really care how you cook with it.

                                                                                                  So we'll run with horticultural definitions.

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Is a cucumber fruit or vegitable? Bell pepper? Zucchini?

                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                      You're quite capable of computer operations that would give you the answer -- even though I know you know the answer as well as anyone reading this.

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        "Quite capable of computer operations"?…..you meaning "googling"…really? Tariff of 1883….really?

                                                                                                        People refer to tomatoes in a culinary context CORRECTLY as vegetables because they are generally used as such in cooking (although I have been known to eat one like and apple). In a scientific context fruit refers to the reproductive function of the structure at point in the plants development cycle. Beans, nuts, grains, among others are all fruit in the scientific context. The part of the mushroom we eat is also called a fruiting body…but I'm not even going to get to that.

                                                                                                        A word can have different meanings in different context and still be used correctly…huh football (in the US) and football (everywhere else in the world).

                                                                                                      2. re: paulj

                                                                                                        Cucumber's a fruit. But really, who cares?

                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                  I just did a quick Google search on that one, and there's quite a bit of information about umami in celery.
                                                                                  Who knew?

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    In "Cooked", Michael Pollan does a very thorough job of discussing the value added of a mirepoix. He talks about what each individual component brings, and how the sum of a mirepoix is greater than it parts. He also talks about the proper construction of a mirepoix (size of dice), and the best methods to bring out the most of a mirepoix. He goes into a fair amount of chemistry detail, and the book contains many citations if you're interested in the food chemistry.

                                                                                    Like everything science, I'm sure Pollan's is but one conclusion on what a mirepoix and its components brings, but it seems logical and well referenced.

                                                                                3. Before I make any ragu (Bolognese, oxtail, lamb, etc.), I take my mirepoix and place it in my slow cooker overnight with some olive oil. For one, my place smells amazing in the morning. Most importantly, when it gets all brown and caramelized and mulch-like, it adds significant depth of flavor that is noticeably absent without.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: djquinnc

                                                                                    If I remember Pollan in "Cooked" correctly, he suggests that caramelizing a mirepoix brings it past its best qualities. I believe he said that the chemistry of a mirepoix best releases its flavors before it caramelizes, when it is cooked very slowly and kept below the point of caramelization.

                                                                                    1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                      Thanks for that. It does seem like it would create something different, not less but different.

                                                                                    2. well, I think this combo provides a flavor base for the dish that complements and blends with the other central ingredeints. The whole is more than the parts.. Many if not all soups, stews and italian ragus start with a mix of these sauteed vegetables along with, sometimes some herbs or meat flavoring. I would say that it adds to and rounds out the flavor of the dish without each of these ingredients zinging you separately. To me the qualities added by these ingredients is of the essence of tine home cooking - hot to say you cant drop out your celery if you dont have it - but a lentil soup or stew without these seasoning vegetables would be much less flavorful.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Sam Salmon

                                                                                          I bet you've eaten a sauce or ragu in which cooked-down celery was a stealth contributor and not known you were enjoying its flavor contribution.

                                                                                          1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                                                            I'll bet you are right. I don't care for raw celery, but cream of celery soup I think is delicious.

                                                                                      1. What kind of celery is used in France?

                                                                                        The Wiki article for celery claims:
                                                                                        "In Europe the dominant variety of celery most commonly available in trade is Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum) grown for its hypocotyl forming a large bulb (commonly but incorrectly called celery root). The leaves are used as seasoning, and the stalks find only marginal use.[citation needed]"

                                                                                        The large stalk kind that we see in the USA is 'pascal celery'.

                                                                                        Another option in some parts of the USA is Chinese celery. I've used it a bit. The stalks are thinner, and more intensely flavored (more like the leaves). It's too tough to use for raw celery sticks.

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                          Regular stalk celery is available everywhere in France, and used just like it is here, as well as braised for a side dish. It's sold both as a whole bunch of celery, like in the US, and also by the stalk (sold by weight). Kind of nice to only buy a few stalks if that's all you need.

                                                                                          celeriac is used as a root vegetable (because it is), and you never, ever buy it with stalks or leaves. It's delicious roasted, or boiled and mashed with potato -- but I've never seen it used as a seasoning in a mirepoix.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            In season (autumn) I buy celeriac with its stalks and leaves at the Jean-Talon market in Montréal. They are smaller than with a pascal celery, and tougher, like the Chinese celery. They are great for seasoning; I'd use them more in a soup than a mirepoix.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              i never go to wiki for food or wine info because it is almost always wrong, lol. maybe i need a new hobby.

                                                                                              celeriac is most certainly not used in place of, or in favor of, stalk celery in france. mire poix is a french phrase, for pete's sake, lol.

                                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                To be picky, mirepoix is one word, comes from le duc de Mirepoix. Mirepoix is a town in southwestern France. His cook was supposed to have "created" this preparation.

                                                                                                Yes, the first part derives from "mirer" = regarder/look at or observe but the second part is unclear (fish, mountains etc) nothing to do with poix (pitch) or pois (peas).

                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  What's wrong about my Wiki quote? Or better, what's wrong with the Wiki article. Don't fault them for my quoting in the wrong context.

                                                                                                  But if you think Wiki articles are wrong, then you should correct them.

                                                                                                  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/04/...
                                                                                                  David Lebovitz seems to think the French prefer the root over the stalks as well.

                                                                                                  http://behind-the-french-menu.blogspo...

                                                                                                  Celery allergy is quite common in France, German, and Switzerland
                                                                                                  http://www.foodsafetywatch.com/public...

                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                    paulj - thanks for those links, especially the second one. I remember having Céleri-Rave Rémoulade in France. Forgot about it until now!

                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                      he doesn't say that the French prefer celery -- but he backs me up that you can buy it a few stalks at a time at the markets (in the groceries, it's a bag with a full stalk, just like in the US)

                                                                                                      It's pretty important to note that the very first sentence in the article is his proclamation that he hates celery. Hardly an unbiased, scholarly presentation-- but not a bad lead-in to a discussion about celeriac.

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        Actually, Lebovitz pointing out that he hates celery (in the first sentence!) puts his view of celery right out there for all to see and consider. I'd say that less biased than someone that absolutely loves celery, doesn't say that, and the whole article is about how great celery is. There's no such thing as "unbiased" - we all have biases based on our genetics, the environment we grew up in, our experiences, etc. At best, we can try to see what might be a bias, acknowledge it, and consider it while making an argument or recommendation. As Lebovitz does. We see this all the time in discussions here about pizza, cheesesteaks, steak, chili, etc. Folks from Texas think their chili is the best and that's how it should be made - because that's what they're used to, and grew up with. It's a bias, and that's OK.

                                                                                                        All that said, this discussion about celery has been interesting. The lowly celery rarely gets this much spotlight!

                                                                                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                          oh, I wasn't saying it as a bad thing -- but taking an article that starts out with "I hate celery" as any kind of a valid reference is a pretty significant leap of faith.

                                                                                                          1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                            Yes! The fact that we are discussing celery should be a celebration.

                                                                                                2. That's interesting how we all taste things differently because, to me, celery has the most distinct flavor of the three. Onion adds that generally savory allium note, carrots a little sweetness and possibly a little earthiness, most of which gets cooked out in a slow cooking process, but celery definitely has that clear, unmistakeable, well, CELERY flavor - green, herbaceous and then almost medicinal to my palate if there's enough of it...

                                                                                                  1. Since celery spoils so easily and I end up throwing most of it out, I avoid it in my mirepoix and substitute celery salt instead.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mtlcowgirl

                                                                                                      The dude from the French Laundry advises not to use celery when making stocks as it makes the stock bitter.
                                                                                                      I made a base stock with a mirepoix last year without the celery, just carrots and sweet onions. I then took two cups of the finished stock and added the 'called for' amount of celery. Tasting both I can say the stock without the celery had a clearer/brighter flavor then the stock with the celery added and simmered in it for half an hour. I did notice a 'bitter' back note too.
                                                                                                      So now I leave the celery out of any stock/braise/soup.
                                                                                                      I did use a little celery last night in the stir fry but I didn't really like it.

                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                        Used in just the right proportions, the type of Celery we find in North America adds an unequaled flavor to soups, stews and stir fried dishes.

                                                                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                          I think I like the bitter note. Both onions and carrots are very sweet when cooked.

                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                            i read this ages ago from keller too and with much relief ceased using celery in most applications. as a kid i enjoyed it raw, but now feel it's most often too stringy and bitter. i suspect the varieties most commonly found in groceries these days are bred for sturdiness and not nuanced flavors.

                                                                                                        2. Anybody ever use diced celery root in their mirepoix?

                                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                            I have, because I was out of stem celery. It was fine, though obviously you don't get the green colour.

                                                                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                              celery root is not a substitute for stalk celery -- see the side discussion above.

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                Why not? I was just asking the question to build on your discussion above. Seems like the answer was provided upthread before anyone has even tried it. I'd say that it can be done, or at least tried.

                                                                                                                1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                  texture -- absolutely not the same. Celeriac is potato-like and breaks down like a starch; celery holds its shape and at least some of its color

                                                                                                                  taste -- close, but not the same

                                                                                                                  the classic definition of "mirepoix"

                                                                                                                  and I'll throw out cost as another factor....no way is celeriac cheaper option than stalk celery.

                                                                                                                  You can do whatever you want in your kitchen, but it's not a straight-up substitute.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    Oh, I certainly agree. Lots of home cooks do ad hoc substitutions.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      Well, I was thinking that mirepoix is supposed to break down completely in the preparation, so there's no reason to worry about the original texture. If someone cannot detect celery in a mirepoix, then maybe the root would provide what they need. As far as cost, I think in terms of dollars per flavor unit. Boiled ham might be cheaper than sopressata by the pound, but the flavor per dollar is much higher with sopressata. I was just curious if it has been tried.

                                                                                                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                        if mirepoix breaks down completely, you've done it very, very wrong, and overcooked it to oblivion.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          No, not true. What is "oblivion" other than imparting flavor. Not sure what you are trying to say.

                                                                                                                          1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                            "break down completely" -- if your mirepoix breaks down completely (i.e., oblivion) than you've overcooked it and the flavor is long gone.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              Where does it go? I'm not seeing food science here.

                                                                                                                              1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                "Where does it go? I'm not seeing food science here."

                                                                                                                                Check out the first chapter of Michael Pollan's "Cooked", the chapter on braises. He goes into considerable detail about the science of both the flavor addition from celery (umami) and the science of the proper cooking method, which is not to cook to the point it breaks down completely. The individual pieces should hold their shape, and if I remember correctly, it should not be browned, but maintain its original color, but becoming translucent. I'm a bit foggy on that last part. I don't remember all of the details, save to say he spend a lot of time on the science of mirepoix.

                                                                                                                                1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                  Well,so have I, and the answer to my question wasn't answered. I don't have that cookbook. My mirepoix gets blended in the final sauce. I'm not sure that any serious cook does otherwise.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                    http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/...
                                                                                                                                    A meat sugo and pasta recipe from Pollan (from Cooked

                                                                                                                                    )

                                                                                                                                    "mince the onions, carrots, and celery separately until all are very fine. You don't want to be able to identify any of the ingredients in the soffritto once the dish is cooked. "

                                                                                                                                    "Add the minced soffritto vegetables and reduce the flame to medium. Cook, stirring often to prevent burning, until the vegetables are brown and tender throughout, about 50 minutes. "

                                                                                                                                    OK, he's talking about an Italian soffritto, not a French mirepoix. But science is the same in both countries.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                      "he's talking about an Italian soffritto, not a French mirepoix. "

                                                                                                                                      More or less different words for same thing. Typical Italian recipes I've seen don't brown soffritto, but use it much as the French use mirepoix. An example of what Escoffier et al. more broadly call "aromatic vegetables," which play supporting roles in so many recipes.

                                                                                                                                      One European's Nockerl is another's gnocchi...

                                                                                                                                    2. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                      Oh, and don't get me started on braises.

                                                                                                                  2. For me, it's the smell of the kitchen. Like springtime's promise of summer can be better than summer itself, that intense mirepoix smell can be better than any meal that follows it. It's the smell of cooking, the promise of a wonderful meal.

                                                                                                                    1. Celery adds nitrates. Tastes a bit like bacon.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                        Celery (juice, seeds) is used a source of nitrates in organic bacon ('uncured'). I can't find a clear statement as to when the nitrates are converted to nitrites, whether it is in the curing processes or when eaten.

                                                                                                                        But sodium nitrate is common in vegetables, including spinach and carrots.

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          y. Mean concentrations of nitrate (expressed as sodium nitrate) were: cabbage (331
                                                                                                                          mg/kg), lettuce (1590 mg/kg), celery (1610 mg/kg), broccoli (133 mg/kg), spinach (990
                                                                                                                          mg/kg), beetroot, canned (763 mg/kg), potato (129 mg/kg), carrot (58 mg/kg) and pumpkin
                                                                                                                          (67 mg/kg). Mean nitrate levels in bacon (36.5 mg/kg), ham (16.6 mg/kg) and luncheon
                                                                                                                          sausage (30.9 mg/kg) were typically lower (Thomson et al, 2007).

                                                                                                                          So, um, high levels in spinach, celery and lettuce. Hm, interesting.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                            Yes, long famous among nutrition scientists. Who also have known for decades that these vegetable nitrates co-occur with natural antioxidants that prevent formation of nitrosamines (the highly reactive, mutagenic materials that made cured meats notorious health-wise). Which is why fresh vegetables aren't associated statistically with mutagenic disease in the way cured meats were.

                                                                                                                            Which in turn is why, in recent decades, curing of meats was modified to add similar antioxidants (like vitamin C, its close sibling erythorbic acid, or their salts), for the same effect.