I love fresh cooked meals, and I love to improvise with ingredients I have on hand, but I don’t always have time for chopping and fussing. Or rather, most nights I am feeling too lazy for much chopping or fussing. I’d rather throw a bunch of stuff in a pan and go sit down with a glass of wine. Enter frozen mirepoix.
Mirepoix is the holy trinity of French cooking—celery, carrot and onion—used to flavor stocks, sauces or soups. I wanted to share a mirepoix short cut with you. I cook it up in large batches and freeze it in ice cube trays. Just plop a few cubes in a pan to defrost and you have a head start on your meal.
Making mirepoix is simple. It is one part carrots, one part celery and two parts onions or leeks (or a combination of the two). If you are going to freeze mirepoix, it makes sense to make a big batch. A bunch of carrots, a head of celery, and a few fat leeks went into the batch I made.
Rinse or scrub your vegetables clean, trim, and dice small. If you have a food processor, use it. You want the veggies to be relatively small and uniform in size. Place the vegetables in a large pan with some olive oil (traditionally mirepoix is made with butter). Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
Once cooled, press mixture into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. Once frozen, pop out of the trays and place mirepoix cubes in a glass jar or freezer bag. Store in freezer. To use, defrost in cooking pan, adding broth or wine to speed the process.
Quick-meal uses for mirepoix:
Risotto: saute rice in the mirepoix before you begin to add the broth.
Soups: throw mirepoix cubes in with broth, seasoning and split peas or lentils. Or simmer mirepoix and broth with potatoes, celeriac, or parsnip, then puree with cream.
Frittata: warm mirepoix in a cast iron skillet, add greens or leftover roast vegetables, cover vegetables with eggs, allow to begin to set on the stove, sprinkle with cheese and finish off under the broiler.
Grains: heat grains and mirepoix together and then simmer in broth for pilafs.
Pasta: Heat canned or frozen white beans and fresh greens with the mirepoix, toss with pasta and a squeeze of lemon.
Hash: Toss defrosted mirepoix with diced potatoes and other root vegetables, adding a touch more olive oil if necessary. Roast in the oven until browned and serve topped with an egg.