The “Holy Trinity” – The Base of New Orleans Cooking
Ask any New Orleanian what the Holy Trinity is, and though the city’s dominant Catholic heritage might imply otherwise, they’re sure to say onions, bell pepper, and celery. These three aromatic vegetables are the undisputed workhorses in the New Orleans kitchen; almost every traditional recipe calls for their merged flavors to serve as its underpinning.
Creole étouffées, gumbos, sauce piquantes and stuffings. Cajun jambalayas. New Orleans red beans and rice. Each of these dishes typically begins with the finely chopped trinity sautéed in a small amount of oil or fat – often the fat left from browning hot, smoked or andouille sausages or other seasoning meats in the skillet.
Heat breaks down these flavorful vegetables, releasing their trapped liquids onto the hot surface of the skillet. An intense flavor is developed as the water evaporates, leaving behind residual sugars that caramelize the vegetables until a desirable richness is achieved, the intensity of which depends on the length of the sauté.
The result is a naturally concentrated and complex flavor and texture that New Orleanians pray they’ll never have to live without.