Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: The Mississippi trinity

The trinity in Louisiana, mirepoix in France, soffritto in Italy, sofrito in Spain, so what does it all mean?

The cuisines of many countries call for an assortment of vegetables as a base to many dishes.  The one we use most often, the trinity consists of onion, bell pepper and celery. 

The French use onions, carrots and celery, the Italians use the same, but the term to the Italians and Spanish refers to the mixture cooked in olive oil with salt and pepper. The Spanish also add garlic, paprika and tomatoes. 

Perhaps it is much ado about nothing. In fact, it is the opposite. For dishes that call for it, the use of a mirepoix is essential. 

The mistake many people make, taking a cue from TV chefs that only have 30 minutes to cook for you, is to undercook it. Take your time.

This vegetable base will add depth to your cooking, but not if you toss it in some oil for just a minute or two. Think of the difference in flavor between a raw onion and a caramelized onion. See what I mean?

Here's how to do it.

MISSISSIPPI TRINITY

1 chopped onion

2/3 cup chopped bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

4-5 cloves chopped garlic

1 chopped jalapeño (optional)

Chop all the vegetables to the same size. It is important that they cook evenly.  If it is a long-cooking recipe, make them bigger, if it is a short-cooking recipe, dice very small. But keep them all the same. Start the onions, bell pepper and celery first. Use a good quality oil and salt freely. Cook over medium-low heat for at least 10 minutes, 20 would be better. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  The vegetables should be close to caramelizing. Continue with your recipe.

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