Friday, January 13, 2006

Just In Case

You were curious about that beginning job in the kitchen.
All for one, one for all - Los Angeles Times: "
DOES cutting up mirepoix have to make you feel like an assembly-line slave? Not if you're patient and follow a few helpful hints.

First, cut the onions in half lengthwise. Don't cut off the stems, as they keep the layers together. Holding the onion half with the knuckles of your non-cutting hand, slice down horizontally in the desired increments. Next do the same thing, only vertically. When you're done, most of the onion will be in uniform cubes.

The carrots and celery can't be done like this (though garlic and shallots can). For carrots and celery, square the vegetables and, once you have straight edges, cut them into even blocks. You'll have a lot of scraps, but that's OK — they can go into a plastic freezer bag for stock. Bell peppers are done similarly: Cut off the rounded edges and quarter them, then press the wedges flat. Depending on how small you want your dice, you can level the wedges horizontally.

Another way to save time — and focus — is to make mirepoix in large batches and freeze it, either raw or already sweated down, in smaller quantities just as you would other key ingredients such as stock or pesto.

So the next time a recipe calls for cutting up some onions and celery, consider the importance of the vegetables in front of you. They may not seem as exciting as the confit of Moulard duck or the whole fish you've just driven across town to buy, but they're just as important.
A good sweat really brings out the aroma.
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