Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crawfish Étouffée

In French, the word "étouffée" means, literally, "smothered" or "suffocated", from the verb "étouffer". In Louisiana, to "smother" food means to simmer it in a small amount of liquid with lots of seasonings and spices to create a gravy or thick sauce that is served over rice.  This is a favorite special occasion meal in New Orleans.  Mme. Grande (my mother-in-law, and New Orleans native) was kind enough to share it with me to share with you.  Her recipe is adapted from the Mr.'s cousin, Alexis's grandmother, Mrs. Wray Edward Robinson (and featured in the Junior League of Baton Rouge cookbook, River Road Recipes II, A Second Helping). There is nothing better than a secret family recipe sans the secret.  

If this is your first time trying your hand at Cajun cuisine, let me just warn you this recipe is a bit challenging.  But you have to start somewhere and mastering the art of a dark brown roux is great place to begin.  The rich delicious final product is totally worth it, I promise!!  It will be the show stealer at your next Mardi Gras fête.

Good luck! 

1 pound of butter (4 sticks)
1 cup flour
*3 bell peppers finely chopped
*2 bunches green onions finely chopped
*1 stalk of celery finely chopped
1 pound of can tomatoes
3 teaspoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
6 cups water
5 pounds crawfish tails
4 cups rice

*If you are short on time, just use two packs of the trinity- bell pepper, onion, and celery used together are known as the "holy trinity" of Cajun cuisine.  It is sold pre-chopped at most Southern grocery stores. 

Melt butter in a large dutch oven.  Add flour and stir constantly to make a deep brown roux (about 45 minutes).  Be very careful not to burn.  Medium low heat is best, but use your best judgment to make sure it is cooking well without overheating.  It will be different with each stove.  It should look like this at the end.  

Add peppers, onion, celery and tomatoes to the roux.  Add seasoning.  Cover and cook slowly for one hour stirring frequently to prevent sticking (medium to medium low heat, but again use your best judgment to make sure it is cooking without burning).  Add water and cook slowly for an hour and a half to two hours.  Add crawfish tails and cook about 30 minutes.  Next, cook the rice.  

Serve rice in individual bowls and spoon crawfish étouffée on top (usually about a 1:1 ratio).

Serves 12.  

Oh and one little confession - I haven't actually tried to make this quite yet, but I was given very specific instructions by Mme. Grande.  I will give it a whirl and update with my results asap.

Bon Appétit.  Back to Paris in less than 5 days!! (And I promise I will stop neglecting this blog).

Images:  1) via pinterest

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