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Etouffee

Note: Adapted from Time-Life Books, American Cooking: Creole and Acadian, Foods of the World, 1971;  Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen; and Betty Crocker's Cajun Cooking.  Instead of freshly made stock, you can use bouillon cubes-- fish or chicken, or both. 

Advance preparation of roux is required.  Or, substitute file powder (ground sassafras tree leaves), but be aware it can get stringy when boiled.   Okra, brought to the Americas by African slaves, is also used to thicken etouffee and other stews.  Shrimp can be substituted with 1" cubes of catfish, which requires a little longer cooking period.

(Serves 4-5 people)

2 lbs cooked crawfish or shrimp, shelled (except shrimp tails, if desired)
3 cps heated fish or chicken stock
4 cps cooked rice

2-4 T prepared brown roux, depending on desired thickness

1 cp onions, finely chopped
1 cp scallions, including 3" of the green tops, finely chopped
1/2 cp celery, finely chopped
1 t garlic, finely chopped
1 cp each finely chopped red bell pepper and green bell pepper
1 16-oz can tomatoes, finely chopped
1 T Worcestershire sauce

For the seasoning:
1 t ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t white pepper
1 t dried sweet basil leaves
1/2 t dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

1. While the rice is cooking, cook shrimp if necessary, drain and refrigerate till ready to use.
2. Heat the roux in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high.
3. Remove from heat immediately and stir in chopped vegetables and a tablespoon of seasoning.
4. Return to heat and gradually add 2 cups of  heated stock to roux mixture. Whisk till thoroughly dissolved.
5. Remove from heat and set aside.
6. Add shrimp or crawfish.  (It can be browned in a little oil if you have the time.)
7. Add etouffee mixture and the other cup of stock.
8. Add remaining seasoning and cook about 4-6 minutes, shaking pan vigorously.
9. Serve with a scoop of cooked rice on top; or, serve rice separately, if preferred.