Mineiro, 33, has signed until the end of the season and was able to join the Chelsea playing staff immediately as he had been a free agent after failing to agree terms for an extension of his contract at previous club Hertha Berlin.
Chelsea will be without Essien for most of the season as a result of a serious knee injury suffered by the Ghana star. With Claude Makelele having left in the summer, that left John Mikel Obi as the only specialist defensive midfielder available to manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Scolari said it would take the midfielder a couple of weeks to get his fitness up to scratch. "He needs to play some games in the reserve team, and for me it is very good because I have one more player in this position.
"If not I have to put in (Juliano) Belletti or (Paulo) Ferreira, or (Michael) Ballack, and they are not for this position," Scolari added. "I say to fans of Chelsea, if they remember (Claude) Makelele, Mineiro is the same. Good positionally, a very good marker. He is a man that works for the other players and he is also a good man outside of the pitch."
Mineiro spent 18 months with Hertha, scoring twice in 36 appearances, having previously played solely in his homeland with Sao Paulo, Sao Caetano and Ponte Preta.
While at Sao Paulo he scored the goal which beat Liverpool in the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup.