Holy Trinity! More Deliciousness!
“Holy Trinity,” or “Cajun Holy Trinity” is the Cajun and Creole equivalent of mirepoix (French, “meer-pwah“): onions, bell peppers and celery mixed in roughly the same quantities and the basis of preparation for several Cajun/Creole dishes including gumbo, étouffée and jambalaya. For the mostly Catholic French Cajuns and Creoles, the Holy Trinity reference is reverent and a sign of respect. When garlic is included, it is referred to as “the Pope,” or in New Orleans vernacular, “wit da Pope.”
At it’s core, Trinity is just those three or four simple ingredients! Green onions and parsley (and, more often than not, more garlic!) are generally sprinkled on top of a finished dish. With these 5-6 ingredients, one has the makings of almost any savory Cajun/Creole entrée. Other seasonings include pepper — often black, white, and cayenne — bay leaves, and dried green herbs such as thyme, basil, and oregano. The trinity vegetables are known as “seasoning vegetables,” meaning they break down during the long, slow cooking process and season the rest of the ingredients.
At Picán, Holy Trinity is part of our “DNA,” a kitchen staple here as it is in the tradition of the greatest kitchens in the South. It adds a depth, a complexity to flavor profiles and turns a dish into “Wow!”
Here’s how to make Holy Trinity at home:
Cajun/Creole Holy Trinity is usually a 1:1:1 ratio; a good starter version is 2 cups chopped onion, 2 cups chopped celery, and 2 cups chopped green bell pepper. In terms of how much to buy for this proportion, this amount is roughly equal to 2 medium onions, 3 stalks celery, and 2 large green pepper. Garlic to taste…we recommend “wit da Pope“!
Chop the ingredients. Then coat a heavy skillet with a film of olive oil, place on low heat and add the vegetables. You want to “sweat” them, not fry, stirring often. Cook far slower than the sizzle of a sauté. No browning is allowed, only a slight release of steam.
The result can only be described as mushy, a term most often used as something to avoid at all cost in cooking vegetables!
But, ohhhh heavens, what a “mush” it is! Slow cooking releases, but does not caramelize, the sugars in the three veggies. Their flavors meld together, crafting an entirely different taste. Once you have the base you can proceed to create Gumbo, Jambalaya, Étouffée, sauce piquants, shrimp stews, crab soup, oyster artichoke soup, red beans and rice, as a flavoring in sauces, soups, braising liquids, whatever. It does not take the place of onions, celery and peppers, so if a recipe calls for them, add them in as called for.