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The ingredients of mirepoix are consistently described as onion, carrot and celery in a 2:1:1 ratio, but there isn't much consistency advice on how to cook it. Most recipes I've found say to sauté it, while most articles I've found on mirepoix itself recommend sweating it. What determines whether you sweat or sauté mirepoix?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

There are no real doneness rules on mirepoix per se (even raw is used in some dishes). However, the recipe designer may say sweat versus sauté to give an indication of colour and flavour depth to match the 'headliner' of the dish (usually the meat).

Although not a rule, you may generally see sweat used more for lighter meats like fish and fowl and sauté for darker and gamier meat like beef and lamb.

That way a darker and more browned mirepoix will not overwhelm say a delicate fish (both in colour and taste).

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I agree, I think in terms of mirepoix (and other similar veg), the terms are used more to indicate levels of browning. I never really liked that though -- since you can brown veg quickly or slowly to get different results. –  jalbee Jul 9 '13 at 22:29
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