When it’s cold, especially in the south, and crawfish is in season, there’s no better dish than authentic Crawfish Étouffée to liven your spirits and warm you up, so get that pot out and prepare to be invigorated by Cajun and Creole cuisine with this recipe from Acadiana Table’s George Graham.
As it’s commonly accepted down south, there are few other absolutely pure expressions of Louisiana cooking than the light roux of a crawfish étouffée with its thickened butter sauce housing swimming crawfish tails over a heavenly pillow of white rice. Known as a “centerpiece dish,” a bowl or heavy plate of crawfish étouffée can truly make-or-break a southern dinner table due to its unique flavor and texture profile that it offers in every freshly-caught, seafood-laden bite.
Various restaurants have crawfish étouffée”remixes” which include the addition of tomato paste, dark roux, or cream of mushroom soup, but in this recipe you’ll find freshly-caught, cajun authenticity in every step, each bite, and from all angels present.
While it’s often accepted to use frozen cooked crawfish tails when the real deal is not in season, perhaps to appease an out-of-season craving for cajun cuisine, it’s always preferred to go with the freshly-picked tail meat, as there simply is no substitute. Some chefs like to save the shells from a crawfish boil and order extra pounds of boiled crawfish to create their own stock. This is due to the fact that besides fresh seafood, there’s also no better substitute than an intense and depth-filled crawfish stock to truly elevate your dish to a higher palette.
The crawfish etouffee recipe’s chef’s note indicates that it’s often considered a best practice to peel your own crawfish, but when found lacking, packaged tail meat is fine as it’s a time-saver. If using pre-packaged, be sure to add a little water to the fat inside in order to get all of the flavor out. Make your crawfish stock at home with leftover heads and shells from past meals. Simply rinse off any seasoning and boil them for 30 minutes and strain. Alternatively, a good shrimp stock can be made using dried shrimp that’s boiled in water and strained.
1 pound of butter (unsalted)
2 cups of diced, yellow onions
1 cup of diced, green bell pepper
1 cup of diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds of Louisiana crawfish tail meat
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups crawfish (or seafood) stock
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
1 cup diced green onion tops
6 cups cooked Louisiana long-grain white rice
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and melt your unsalted butter; then add the onions, bell pepper and celery (the trinity). Sauté until it’s tender and then add in your garlic. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir your ingredients to combine. Season the mixture with cayenne pepper and add your crawfish tail meat by stirring it into the total combination.
- Sprinkle your flour over the mixture and stir it in to incorporate it and thicken it by cooking the four. Add some of your stock and continue stirring until it all begins to thicken. Add more stock until you get a stew-like thickness.
- Season it all to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Let it simmer on the stove for at least 45 minutes, but the longer and lower the heat, the better. Serve over a mound of white rice and garnish with parsley and green onion tops.
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