I can’t wait to start posting more of my family’s real Cajun recipes but before I do we have to get some basics down. The first one being the Cajun trinity. The Cajun trinity is our version of the French mire poix. The Cajun version consists of equal parts of onion, bell pepper, and celery whereas the French version uses carrots instead of bellpeppers. The Cajuns originated in France so it is no wonder they stayed true to their roots in making the trinity the base of their delicious culinary creations. Celery was easier to come by here so a substitution was made.
The reference to the “trinity” is deeply rooted in the Cajun’s (Acadians) strong Christian background.
One trick us Cajuns have is that we do most of our “hard” work during the winter when it’s cool. Notice I said “cool” and not “cold”. Yeah, we don’t know what cold is. I’ll be posting lots of our recipes and prep ahead techniques here over the next few months because we prep for most of the year during the winter. It’s too hot to do all of this during the summer. I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen anyway so prepping ahead helps.
For this we start by gathering the vegetables that are part of most Cajun recipes: one onion, two bell peppers, 5 stalks of celery. Typically I prefer to use a red bell pepper to give it some color but my local store was out of organic ones. Bell peppers are one of those foods that you should buy organic so I just bought green instead.
NOTE: In Cajun cooking we also use lots of garlic (who doesn’t?), green onion, and parsley but I do not freeze those with these bags. Those items just do not freeze well in my opinion. The parsley looses it’s flavor, the garlic gets gritty, and the green onions wilt when they thaw. That stuff is so easy chop and throw in the pot that I just prefer to wait until I’m cooking to do it.
The first thing I do is put my onions in the freezer. This causes the juices to freeze up a bit and that is beneficial in two ways. First, it causes the juices to stay inside of the onion instead of all over your cutting board so more of the flavor remains in tact. Second, because the juice stays in place the vapors don’t irritate your eyes as much. Try it. It really works.
At this point I start dicing my bell peppers and celery. I chop it a bit small since my boys are picky. I can pass off the small dices with rice and such because they don’t notice a difference in the texture. I can’t do that with large dices. By the time I’m done chopping the other veggies my onions are ready. I take them out of the freezer and dice them finely.
That red bell pepper sure would have made that last photo much prettier. Hmmpphhh…
In any case, once you have it all chopped up then you can mix it together. If you use a scraper spoon in a folding motion then it works great.
The final step is to store it in baggies and freeze them. I measure out two cups per bag since that is about the amount each of my recipes require. This batch will make 3 bags for 3 meals. That’s not enough for a Cajun household but it might suit yours just fine. I typically make 15-20 bags at a time and it lasts us for a few months. In addition to the rough chop frozen seasonings I also put some in a food processor to puree it for things like soups, gumbo, stew, and pasta. In the next photo I have some of the pureed version as well as the rough chop version.
Once they are in the baggies, with all of the air out, flatten them so they stack on top of each other. Once they are frozen then they can be stored vertically in the freezer. This saves a lot of space!
When you have a recipe that calls for the Cajun trinity, just pull a bag out of the freezer about 30 minutes before it is needed and it is ready to be cooked as usual! This method of prepping ahead saves me lots of time in the kitchen.
What vegetables do you use in most of your meals? I bet they could be frozen too!