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In Cajun Cuisine, The Sacred Mirepoix Features A Key Ingredient Swap

Cajun mirepoix with onion, celery, and bell pepper
Cajun mirepoix with onion, celery, and bell pepper - Silent O/Shutterstock

Mirepoix is the French culinary term for a combination of diced onions, carrots, and celery, which are used as the base of many familiar soups and stews. These simple vegetables combine to create complex flavors that are important for taste and balance in whatever finished dish they are part of. Many cultures have their own version of mirepoix. For example, Spanish sofrito adds tomato and garlic to the mix. In Italy, you'll find a variation called soffritto, which takes a mirepoix base and adds olive oil and sometimes garlic and wine. For all of the varieties around the world, there's one place that pioneered the inclusion of bell peppers in mirepoix: Louisiana.

In Louisiana, you'll find Cajun cooks using this unique version of mirepoix for the unmistakable flavors of gumbo, etouffee, and jambalaya, where green bell peppers are substituted in place of carrots. In fact, Cajun mirepoix is so revered that it was dubbed the holy trinity of vegetables by renowned chef Paul Prudhomme. If you've had gumbo, then you know that carrots would be out of place in your bowl. The grassy and sweet flavor of bell pepper seems so natural in our favorite Louisiana cuisines, but how did this variation become enshrined in our hearts and tastebuds?

Read more: The 15 Best Ingredients To Thicken Homemade Soup

Humble Ingredients Make Heavenly Food

gumbo mirepoix with shrimp
gumbo mirepoix with shrimp - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Cajun cooking is a blend of techniques and traditions brought together by the diverse inhabitants of Louisiana. French and Spanish settlers both contributed to the flavors that we now recognize as the unique regional cuisine. The classics were not shaped from extravagant ingredients — they relied on what was on hand in garden plots. Onions, celery, and bell peppers were easy to grow and within reach most times of the year. Even though carrots were probably grown too, the taste for peppers in Cajun cooking became established via tradition passed down through the generations.

To make a proper Cajun trinity, use finely diced portions of green bell pepper (not red!) and celery accompanied by a double portion of onion. The trinity is stirred into the dark roux of gumbo, used to start a spicy jambalaya, and can not be omitted from savory red beans and rice. You'll thank the heavens for this sacred mirepoix variation!

Read the original article on Tasting Table.