The Cajun Holy Trinity

Cajun Holy Trinity - onions, celery & bell peppersTrue Cajun cooking, as it’s meant to be, can only be found in the South. Louisiana is rich with the culture of les Acadians, French colonists from Canada. In the 1700s, they were forced from their Canadian homes and many made their way to Louisiana. Settling there and bringing the Cajun culture with them has helped to enrich the way of eating. We have been blessed to be able to enjoy these unique recipes, and sharing them is even more enjoyable. The language and food are French-derived, but the Cajun cooking is ours alone. If you can’t make it to the South, we can help bring the flavors to your cooking right to your door! Here’s what you’ll need for a solid foundation to start all Cajun recipes.

The Cajun Holy Trinity

The Catholic French Cajuns of Louisiana use the term “Holy Trinity” in their cooking as a sign of respect. The same emotional attachment to the church can be said of our cooking. Onions, bell peppers and celery are the three standard vegetables that are the base for any traditional Cajun dish. We use it for soups, jambalaya, sauces, stews or just a sauce piquant. These “seasoning vegetables” are broken down when cooked slowly and help to season all the other ingredients.

Typical Proportions

  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped green pepper

Usually cooked in our favorite oil or butter until the water evaporates, the flavor of the vegetables is released and caramelizing begins. Slow cooking is the key here. The heat should start on medium. When the vegetables start to cook down, lower the heat and stir constantly until they are transparent and a little darker in color. This should take about 30 to 40 minutes. The smell will make your mouth water and a smile will cross your face. We then add flour as a thickening agent and sauté the blend to the desired thickness. This is what is referred to as a roux. Adding a little garlic, or as we call it, wit da Pope, enhances the wonderful richness of the roux. A sprinkle of parsley and some green onions on the top of the dish will make this meal one that harkens back to the original Cajun cooking brought to Louisiana long ago.

French or Italian Similarities

Much like this exclusively Cajun staple is a mirepoix (meer-pwah), using onions, celery and carrots, that forms the base for French dishes. Swap out the carrots for sweet bell peppers and the Cajun Holy Trinity is born. In the soffrito, as the base of Italian cooking, a combination of onions, celery and carrots slowly fried in olive oil, provides the flavoring for dishes from Italy’s regions. Optional additions of many herbs including rosemary, sage, persil and basil, plus vinegar or wine make it a slightly different version. We can add the same herbs to the Holy Trinity if desired and come up with a unique flavoring for a traditional dish

Other Cultures’ Base Recipes

  • Mexican – mixes chilies with rice and beans
  • Greek – combines garlic with olive oil and lemon juice
  • Chinese – contains soy sauce and onions with rice

We, Louisianians, cook from the heart and our étouffées, jambalayas, red beans and rice, gumbos and stuffings use the Holy Trinity to merge all the flavors and create an almost religious experience out of any Louisiana recipe. Come and savor our flavors that can only be found in the Deep South where the traditions are carried on from generation to generation.

Posted by on June 25, 2017 in Articles, ,

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