Crawfish Etouffee

Crawfish Etouffee with Steamed Jasmine Rice
Crawfish Etouffee with Steamed Jasmine Rice

This Louisiana regional favorite has it origins dating back to the 1790s  with recipes that call for a specific seafood to be cooked in wine, butter and onions. The word étouffée (pronounced eh-too-fey) comes from the French word “to smother.”

Eventually, this Acadian style of cooking found its way into Creole cuisine. “The Picayune Creole Cook Book“, published in 1901, is  the most authoritative reference on traditional Creole cuisine, and it includes recipes for a few Acadian dishes – pork sausages, red and white boudins, andouille and several recipes for crawfish. However, crawfish étouffée does not appear in the cookbook because it was not  created until the 1920s in Breaux Bridge,  Louisiana which is now known as the Crawfish Capital of the World.

In Breaux Bridge’s Hebert Hotel, Mrs. Charles Hebert and her two daughters, Yolie and Marie, made the first crawfish étouffée by cooking the tails in a lidded pot with crawfish, fat and smothered down with onions and green bell peppers. It is believed that the Hebert sisters coined the term ‘etouffee’ when a guest in their boarding house in Breaux Bridge wandered into the kitchen to ask what was cooking.

One of the sisters replied, ‘smothered crawfish,’ but since the guest was French, her Acadian dialect pronounced  ‘etouffee,’ and thus the term was born.The Heberts passed on the recipe to their friend Aline Guidry Champagne,  who opened the Rendez-Vous Cafe in Breaux Bridge in 1947 and introduced the dish to her customers. And the dish has been a classic Louisiana staple ever since then.

The best way to describe the dish is a thicker stew, seasoned to perfection and chock full of delicious, plump crawfish,  similar to gumbo because it consists of the  same types of Creole seasonings, served over rice, and made with a roux, but unlike gumbo, étouffée is made with a “blonde” roux, giving it a lighter color and a very “nutty” flavor.

Yields 2 Large Entree Servings

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning (Recipe Follows)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4  cup celery, chopped
1/2  cup green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 pounds cooked crawfish tail meat
1/4  cup flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups of cooked steamed Jasmine Rice

 

Creole Seasoning Ingredients

2 1/2 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1Tablespoon onion powder
1Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in airtight container for future uses. Yields 2/3 cup of seasoning.

Method:
Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet, add the onions, bell pepper, celery, and the Creole seasoning, saute until translucent.Add the crawfish tail meat, the flour, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.

Add a small amount of the chicken broth, stir well to form a paste, add the remaining broth gradually, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You may need a little more stock, but the end result should be the consistency of a gravy, not too thick, not too thin.

Add the garlic, thyme, Worcestershire, and cayenne pepper a little salt, black pepper. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of butter, lemon juice, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more.

Serve over steamed Jasmine Rice and garnish with  sliced green onions and  minced parsley.

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