Crawfish Étouffée

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Crawfish Etouffee

 

Being on the Gulf Coast, there is a abundance of seafood and there is no place better than the State of  Louisiana, and there’s nothing better than this classic Southern Creole dish during crawfish season.

Crawfish season varies from one year to the next, based on how cold (or mild) the weather was during the Gulf Coast winter. It also depends on the amount of rain, and the water levels in the swamps and bayous.

Generally, the crawfish season in Louisiana runs from mid-January through early-July for crawfish caught in the wild, with the peak months being March, April and May. Crawfish from farms are available over a longer period of the year. When out of season, you can switch to  cooked crawfish that are available in the seafood section of your local super market. This is a great alternative, and if cooked correctly, tastes exactly like the live crawfish.

There are hundreds if not thousands of recipes for Crawfish Étouffée, just as there  are many cooks and chefs in the world. This is the old fashion Creole way to cook Crawfish Etouffee, with a blonde roux. Very simple yet very flavorful.But this recipe is easy and adaptable with ingredients you may have on hand. The important thing is to have celery, green bell pepper and onions to make the ‘trinity”, which is so common in Southern Cuisine. I used red onions, which will give you very different taste if you used white or yellow onions. The crawfish can be substituted with shrimp when crawfish are out of season. Even better when served with hot corn bread or a crusty French bread. Start cooking the rice first since this is a quick and easy dish. To keep the dish a bit more healthy, I used steamed brown rice for this recipe, but you can use whatever you like.

Enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
2 cups chopped  red onions
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped bell peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound peeled crawfish tails
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup  chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 Tablespoons chopped green onions
Cooked rice, for serving

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and sauté until soft and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the crawfish and bay leaves. Reduce the heat to medium. Stirring occasionally, cook until the crawfish begin throwing off a little liquid, 10 to 12 minutes.

Dissolve the flour in the water. Add to the crawfish mixture and season with salt, cayenne, black pepper and white pepper. Stir until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Add the parsley and green onions and cook for about 2 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves.

To serve, ladle the etouffée into shallow soup bowls and top of with a scoop of cooked rice. Serve immediately.
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Panko Fried Green Tomatoes

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During my travels this Summer, I had an opportunity to make a stop along the Gulf Shores, in Biloxi, Mississippi. While staying at the Beau Rivage, I dined at  The Buffet, for lunch and was presently surprised at how fresh and inviting the food was.

Yes, I know what you are thinking…. “all casinos have buffets.” But not this buffet. Forget the tired old image and experience a line-up of creations that rivals the best restaurants on the Gulf Coast. No wonder savvy locals consistently choose The Buffet for weekend brunch and holiday dinners. The variety is unparalleled, and so is the quality.

DSC00485The atmosphere is lively, contemporary and warm ……the décor was that of French Copper Pots DSC00484and Cooking Utensils. How imaginative!– A perfect backdrop to the amazing array of mouth-watering food.

Take your time and sample enticing flavors from around the globe; succulent meats carved or grilled to your specifications; made-to-order pastas and omelets; classic comfort food, including down home Southern-style favorites; plus, the most bountiful fresh seafood and salads available anywhere. And the desserts?  Well, you will  just have to try one. Or several.  Now, this is a  real  buffet!

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Anyways, I have digressed…….

For me, the star of the buffet were the Panko Fried Green Tomatoes. They were absolutely to die for. Panko bread crumbs have a coarser texture than ordinary bread crumbs, which you can also use to coat the tomatoes. Yet,  the panko crumbs gave the fried tomatoes a uniquely light and crispy texture and they were seasoned with just the right amount of fresh herbs too.

I  re-created  this quintessential Southern side dish and the results were pretty close to the ones I had while visiting the Gulf Shores.

Enjoy !

Makes 8 to 10 Servings

Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
12 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
2 cups Japanese panko  bread crumbs
5 medium green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Canola oil, for deep-fat frying

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the , flour, garlic powder, black pepper, salt,  parsley and thyme together.

In shallow bowl gently beat the eggs and the buttermilk together.

In  another shallow bowl, add  the panko bread crumbs. Dip  the tomato slices in flour, followed by the egg mixture, and then coat  the tomatoes with  the panko bread crumbs,  gently pressing the breadcrumbs into the slices of tomatoes, coating both sides well.

Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet, to  375° F. Fry tomatoes, a few at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crispy. Carefully remove the tomatoes and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately with hot pepper sauce, lemon or ranch dressing.