Mirepoix is not a single vegetable but a vegetable trio: onion, carrot and celery; finely chopped and sautéd together. This mixture forms a tremendously useful and versatile base for dozens of dishes. The Taster recommends freezing batches of mirepoix for use in emergencies.

Simmer mirepoix in one or two large serving spoonfuls of olive oil with beef mince and tomato purée to make bolognese sauce. Use a lot of purée; about 1 tubeful per pack of mince — you can use chopped tomatoes if you prefer, but the flavour is more intense with purée.

Simmer mirepoix with mince until the mince is cooked, then add cream and continue simmering for a few minutes for a delicious white pasta sauce. If you use half beef mince and half pork mince, the pork mince (being fatty) adds even more flavour — delicious. Use on whatever is your favourite pasta.

Mix mirepoix with meat or mushrooms to fill pasties or pies; with beef or lamb and top with mashed potato to make cottage or shepherd’s pie; or use as the base for almost any soup, stew or casserole. If you’re doing curry with rice, boil the rice, drain it, pour it in a frying pan, add a big spoonful of mirepoix, some cumin and turmeric (careful now! – measure it out in tiny teaspoons, you want a golden colour, not bright orange) and perhaps some cardamom seeds (mmm, perfume explosion), fry gently for a few minutes and voila – fragrant golden highly interesting fried rice. You can throw in flaked almonds and sultanas if you’re doing kebabs, too. Fusion at its best!

Very few dishes are not rendered extra flavorous by a crafty spoonful of mirepoix during the cooking process; for this reason, it is a great idea – when you have a spare hour – to make a huge batch, use up all your veg, and freeze it in little bags so you can just throw a frozen handful into a pot whenever required. It’s almost like a hugely superior vegetable stock cube.

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