mirepoix prep

Joined Jul 3, 2002
Dumb question number 856. :blush: How many hours (minutes) ahead can I prep my mirepoix before sauteing? I'm making braised lamb shanks, but would like to get a jump on the prep, run up to work to do some errands, and come back to cook. Will the veggies lose too much flavor?
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Do them the night before if you have to, not a problem. The onions if you could leave them for last would be preferable as they tend to stink everything up and get strong. But if you wrap everything well and keep them refrigerated, I see no problem with you doing it up to 24 hrs in advance if necessary. Mirepoix is a pretty hearty mixture, don't worry about it, I'm sure your lamb shanks will never notice it!
Bon Apetit!:chef:


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
I think it should be fine. In the prep kitchen it's not uncommon to keep a bucket of carrot shavings, onion skins, celery bottoms, and tomato tops for a coupla days before dumping it in the stockpot.

Joined Sep 22, 2000

In a bind I have done Mirepoix up to three days ahead but I keep all the veg. seperate, and tightly wrapped. The reason for doing it so far out is because of how much work is anticipated and / or the fact that I would have a couple days off and wanted to be prepped when I got back.

D. Lee
Joined Jul 3, 2002
Thank you all so much! I've been wondering about timing my preps for a long time now, but felt really dumb posting the question. Finally, I figured it was dumb not to ask when there are so many pros here who seem to be infinitely patient (at least on-line ;) )
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Never a dumb question from you, Phoebe! Keep 'em coming. This place is full of great cooking teachers.
Joined Nov 20, 2000
If you were to saute the mirepoix in advance you would likely

A) overcook the vegetables.
B) Deny the item that you were cooking the flavors from the vegetables which is really the whole reason for making a mirepoix.
C) in the case of Lamb Shanks which take a long time to cook you would really turn your mirepoix to mush.

Best bet is to never cook a mirepoix in advance.
Joined Nov 17, 2000
I assume that doing the prep for my Christmas dressing--the onions, peppers, all that stuff--falls in this same category. I just can't get all that stuff done before the meal, so I did it the day before and sealed it all up really well.
The dressing was great--my second try! First one was okay but the cornbread recipe was not that great.
Joined Mar 3, 2002
chrose, I appreciate all the dangers you enumerate, but it seems to me that doing the mirpoix almost to the point where where you'd go on to the next step, leaving it in the pot with the fond overnight, then starting up the process would pretty well deal with them.

As for the overdone veggies, a problem, I admit. My favorite stew recipe calls for tossing out the ones you've stewed the meat with and adding some separately roasted vegetables for a short while before serving just long enough to meld the flavors.
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Ahh good point, but you didn't say that the first time:)
doing it that way wouldn't hurt because if you did that then by the same token when the cooking is done you could leave the vegetables in and run a hand mixer thingamabob to puree your sauce adding body and flavor.
The idea of adding roasted veggies to the finished product is an interesting idea and in the LAmb Shanks recipe sounds very tasty.
Good call.
Joined Mar 3, 2002
I can't take credit for that very good idea. It came from Paula Wolfert's Catalan stew. It's probably the best and most intricate stew I've ever made (about 3 days to make it, though mostly waiting). It's made with beef shank, but could easily be adapted to lamb or veal.

This is a great dish but must be made with shin beef which is gelatinous; It didn’t turn out nearly as well with another cut (chuck). It would probably be good with oxtail, too.

Traditionally made smothered in coals, but ok not to . Seal and cook in slow oven 4 hours.
This version from the Hostal de Sant Jordi in Barcalona.
Requires gelatinous cut of beef; a sharp strong red wine: Priorato of Tarragona, or Torres’ Gran Sangre de Toro, an Italian Barbera or strong domestic Pinot Noir. (I used the Torres')
Veggies roasted separately and added only at the end.

Use enameled cast iron casserole or deep earthenware pot with greaseproof paper on top of meat and tight fittinbg lid to seal meat and flavorings in the pot. [I use a Le Creuset and parchment]

4 ½ lbs boneless beef shin or foreshank, cut in 2" pieces
2 bottles red wine (above)
1/4 lb Pancetta or blanched salt pork cut in lardons (1/4" x 1")
4 Tbs x olive oil
coarse salt and ground white pepper
2 large yellow onions, cut into 1/8ths
2 large carrots, cut into 1" chunks
1 celery rib, in 1" chunks’8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
--½ tsp oregano
--1/4 tsp fennel seed
--½ tsp thyme leaves
2 bay leaves, crumbled
--3 cloves
--2" piece soft cinnamon, crushed
--1/4 Tbs whole white peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/4 cup flour
4 Tbs anisette, preferable Anis del Mono
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
4 Tbs black Muscat or Muscatel (Quady’s Elysium good)
Roasted Vegetable Garnish:
8 Tbs olive oil
18 small white onions, peeled
18 small whole new potatoes (or 1 ½ lbs larger waxy potatoes, peeled and chunked)
12 small garlic cloves, unpeeled
12 small carrots, pared and blanched 1 minute
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
sprigs thyme and 2 bay leaves
coarse and fine salt
ground white pepper
chopped fresh parsley

Begin 2 days in advance for best results:
1. Cover beef cubes with red wine, keeping in cool place or fridge 24 hours. Stir a couple times during marination.

2. Next day: drain beef; reserve wine. Dry meat on paper towels and lightly pound with mallet.

3. Large Casserole: Cook lardons in olive oil over moderately lwo heat, stirring occasionally til fat is rendered and lightly brown, about 15 minutes. Slotted spoon to transfer them to bowl. Increase to high heat; saute beef in the fat in batches, turning pieces til browned all over, about 10 minutes.
Transfer meat to bowl with the lardons.
Season with ½ tsp of pepper and 1/4 tsp salt.
Add yellow onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, spices to the casserole and brown lightly, stirring.
Pour off all but 3 Tbs of fat, sprinkle it with flour, stir and allow to brown evenly.
Deglaze with vinegar, then gradually stir in the red wine.
Return meat to casserole. Add water if needed to completely submerge meat. Bring to boil. Cover with parchment or foil cut to fit and a tight fitting lid. Set in a 250f oven and cook til meat is fork tender, about 4 hours. [Time depends on quality of the meat]

4. Slotted spoon: remove beef to plate, covering loosely with foil to keep moist. Strain cooking liquid, extracting juices. Skim fat off the top.
Pour it into large saucepan and reduce, skimming often, to a total of 2 cups, taking about 15 minutes. Add anisette and muscatel to sauce; return to boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour sauce over the meat, cover, refrigerate overnight.

5. 2 hours before serving, remove the meat and sauce from fridge; bring to room temperature.
Cover bottom of roasting pan with olive oil and add veggies and herbs. Roll to coat evenly. Roast at 350f til they are glazed, crusted, tender, about 1 ½ hours. Blot off excess oil and. Salt and Pepper.

6. About 20 minutes before serving, reheat meat and sauce in casserole over moderately high heat. Add veggies; simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with coarse and fine salt, pepper; garnish with parsley.

*To prepare meat: remove all outside fat, then, using a boning knife, follow the natural lines separating the beef muscles. Then cut each piece of meat crosswise into 2" pieces. Add bones and tendons to the pot after adding the wine. --I prefer cutting the meat a little larger to allow for shrinkage as I like larger pieces

For shorter cooking time: substitute a mix of short ribs and rump or chuck; simmer at 325f about 2 hours. -- But I found the less gelatinous chuck didn't work well enough to justify all the time and effort.
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