The Cabin Restaurant‘s by-line since its founding in 1973 has been “Cajun & Creole cooking prepared in the River Road tradition.” Many recipes that stem from this storied culinary tradition involve two essential ingredients: a roux and the Trinity. Several item’s on the The Cabin’s menu feature one or both of them. If you are not from Louisiana, there is a good chance that you are unfamiliar with the terms. Below is an excerpt from The Cabin Cook Book, which describes a roux and the Trinity, as well as a few dishes that you can use them in:
A rich brown roux is the foundation upon which almost every dish is built, including soups and sauces and many vegetables. Cooking a roux has been so maligned, that many cooks do not even try. DO NOT BE AFRAID!
Begin by heating the amount of oil or shortening called for on medium heat in a sufficiently large skillet. Sprinkle onto the heated oil an equal amount of all-purpose flour, stirring constantly until the roux reaches the color needed for the dish you are preparing. It can vary from almost white for light gravies to a very deep brown for gumbo’s. The roux must not be allowed to burn. The slightest burnt odor will ruin the savory dish.
The “Trinity” is the combination of onion, celery and bell pepper all cut to the same small dice, and cooked together in a “foundation roux”. This technique is used in scores of dishes and is the essential first step. After the Trinity cooks to a translucent stage, you can develop any number of different dishes: Seafood based, Chicken based, Italian based, or perhaps dishes you develop yourself.
Remember, when you are slicing and dicing and frying and smothering and developing the dish, this is stove-top cooking, not baking. Baking is a chemical + heat + time reaction and all of the ingredients and the amounts are predetermined and the recipe must be followed. But, on the surface of a range you are free to try to change as you like. Add a bit more garlic if you love it or none if you don’t. It’s all a mixture being heated and no mandatory amount is critical.
When you become comfortable making a roux and cooking the trinity in it, you will be able to easily cook any Creole or Cajun dish you want. Make adjustments you family likes and develop your own dishes.