BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK
If you’re gonna live in NOLA, crawfish etouffee is a must. For one thing, it’s easy and I’m pretty sure it will freeze for even better results later on.
This recipe is an adaptation of famed John Besh’s but without his supreme skill and courage for making an intensely dark roux. Frankly, we had a dark-rouxed gumbo recently out in NOLA and it wasn’t as good as mine (I hate to brag).
Anyway, this is a perfect recipe when you’ve got guests and want to act like you really know your way around the kitchen. Enjoy!
- medium size dutch oven
- cutting board
- small bowls for prepped ingredients
- wooden spoon
- covered saucepan for rice
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- Half a red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Leaves from two sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and diced (If you use canned, drain and use 1/4 cup)
- 1 quart shellfish stock
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound peeled crawfish tails (from 2 ½ pounds live or buy frozen and don’t tell anybody)
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 dashes Worchestershire
- 2 dashes Tabasco
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups cooked basic Louisiana rice
LET’S GET STARTED
Chop all the vegetables and put them in prep bowls for later. The onions need to be in their own bowl. The others (celery, bell pepper, garlic) can go in the same bowl.
Heat the oil in the dutch oven over medium-high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. It will immediately begin to sizzle and fizz. Keep whisking and reduce the heat to moderate. Continue whisking until the roux takes on a gorgeous dark brown color, about 15 minutes. (I can’t take the color that far. After 15 minutes, if you think you’ve gone as far as your nerves will take you before it burns, move on.)
Add the onions, reduce the heat, and cook until the onions caramelize. (If you add all the vegetables at the same time, the water that results will boil the onions and their sugars won’t caramelize.)
When the onions have turned the roux shiny and darker, add the celery, bell peppers, garlic, thyme, cayenne and paprika. Cook for 5 minutes.
Now add the tomatoes and the shellfish stock and increase the heat to high.
Once the sauce has come to a boil, reduce the heat to moderate and let simmer 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Be careful not to let it burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
Reduce the heat to low and stir in the butter. Add the crawfish tails and green onions. Season with Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and black pepper. Once the crawfish tails have heated through, remove the saucepan from the heat.
Check my gumbo recipe for how to cook rice. Essentially, equal parts water to rice (1 1/2 cups of each will probably be enough for this recipe). Salt. Bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low and cook 20 minutes.
Serve in individual bowl over rice.
Come back every Wednesday for “Southfacin’ cook” at New in NOLA for Patsy’s basics to Southern cooking and eating. Contact her with suggestions, questions or requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous recipes from Patsy:
Please tell me why my crawfish tails turn gray when i cook them. They were left over peeled and frozen from a boil earlier this year and looked fine before going into the étouffée but afterwards had shrunken considerably and turned a grayish color. Is this ok?
Josh – that’s weird. Did you eat one? Taste OK? I’ve never had them turn gray on me. Will ask around and see what my cooking friends say.
Other than that, how did your dish come out?
The crawfish tails turn grey if the etouffet boils after they’re added. Keep your pot on low with no lid to avoid!
Gray also-tastes fine. Can be from tomato reaction or from freezing with the fat…..anybody?
I’m a long time crayfish cook & eater. My crayfish turned grey this time but not the last time. I’m curious why. They taste ok, just look unappetizing. They ere la source crayfish, bought frozen & thawed & dropped into the etouffe the same day. Anyone?
Did you find out why? I made crawfish pies and used the same La Crayfish bought frozen from Rouses both time and the second time they were gray?? Taste the same but they are gray!
Cast iron pot? That could be one explanation.
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I am so glad I’m not the only one! I don’t make etoufee that often so I thought I cooked them too long or something. My crawfish are gray also! Used my magnalite as usual and the crawfish are Louisiana. Tastes fine but really looks unappetizing.