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Tried & True Crawdad Etouffee?

I'm looking for a tried and true fav recipe for some etouffee. I've got some tail meat that I'd like to whip up for my young ones. Thanks.

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  1. My father worked for a cajun company, and I grew up eating Aunt Te's Crawfish Etouffee. She sold this magnificent mixture in mason jars, up until the time she died. Every month or two, my dad would pull one of those jars out of the freezer, and we knew it was going to be a great dinner that night. Unfortunately, she took the recipe with her. The closest I've come to matching her recipe is Paul Prudhomme's recipe from his Louisiana Kitchen cook book.

    Seasoning Mix:
    2 tsps. salt
    2 tsps. cayenne (I love and live for hot, spicy food. And, this is to spicy for me!!! I cut it in half and use one teaspoon of cayenne. Probably a lot of cajuns out there who would disagree)
    1 tsp. white pepper
    1 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp. dried sweet basil leaves
    1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
    1/4 cup chopped onions
    1/4 cup chopped celery
    1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
    7 tablespoons cooking oil (I use peanut oil as the roux has been described as having a "nutty" flavor. Don't know if it makes any difference)
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    3 cups seafood stock (I either go to Tony's meat market (In Denver) or, you can use clam juice)
    1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    2 lbs peeled crawfish tails
    1 cup finely chopped green onions
    4 cups cooked rice.

    Combine your spices and set aside.

    In a heavy Iron skillet, I use a dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat. I always get someone to help me with this part. When the oil starts to smoke, I use a sifter and start adding the flour while whisking. You can't stop whisking or you will burn the roux. If you burn it (black specks) you have to start over. Reach into your pocket and pull out a new penny. That's the color the roux should be when it's done. Take it off the heat and add your vegetables and 1 tablespoon of your spice mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. The mixture will seem too dry, and the vegetables will ball up in the pan. That's the way it is supposed to be.

    In a 2 quart saucepan, bring 2 cups of the stock to a boil over high heat. Gradually add your roux mixture until the flour is all disolved and mixed well, about 2 minutes and stirring constantly.

    In a 4 quart saucepan melt a stick of butter over medium heat and add the 2 lbs. crawfish and green onions, and saute for a minute. Add the other stick of butter, the remaining cup of seafood stock, and the stock mixture (the roux mixture, from above). Cook and stir until the butter is melted into the sauce (4 to 6 minutes) shaking the pan back and forth (as opposed to stirring. Why? I don't know. Maybe stirring breaks the sauce). Add the remaining spice mixture, stir it in, and remove from the heat. If the sauce does break (separates), add 2 tblsp. of seafood stock or water and shake the pan until it combines. Pour it over your rice, and get ready for some damn good chow. Also, you better print this recipe, because Paul Prudhomme's recipes are very difficult to find on the internet.

    5 Replies
    1. re: dhedges53

      Thank you. Sounds deelish. I made duck gumbo yesterday and after about 20 mins of non stop stirring, my roux suddenly went from a stirrable mix to very loose for some reason. I added more flour and nearly freaked out when it started bubbling and starting get kind of funky looking like curdled milk. I added more flour, stirred like mad and it got back to the original consistency. After another 15 mins or so, I got a nice carmel brown and I used it and it tasted fine. I'm not sure what happened there.

        1. re: DetectDave

          When I first started making roux's, I didn't get the heat high enough, and it never seemed to work for me. I also tried using a copper clad saute pan, and it didn't work. You have to use iron. In the Paul Prudhomme recipe, he says heat the oil until "smoking". To me that means real hot when you first see a little smoke. I use peanut oil, but I suppose canola, or any oil that can take high heat, will work. That's why I find someone to help me make the roux. One person mans the sifter, one person holds onto the iron skillet and whisks like crazy. It only takes about 5 minutes, and it's flavor makes the etouffee. Make sure not to splash any of it onto your hands or arms, it's like napalm. You have to have a whisk that will get that flour between the sides and bottom of your iron skillet.

          Good luck with those mud bugs!!!

          1. re: DetectDave

            The Etouffee roux is supposed to get loose and runny the more you cook (and stir) it. The darker and runnier it is the less it will thicken but the more it will flavour and colour your dish. As it cooks and darkens moisture is forced out of the flour and sugars caramelize impairing it's ability to thicken
            Traditionally, Cajun roux was made from lard, never butter (too expensive and you have to clarify it first or it will burn before the roux is done). As folks stopped slaughtering their own hogs, the amount of lard found in a kitchen dropped. Cooking oil was a cheap and easy substitution
            If you make a french roux, use butter, and only cook the flour for a minute or two. 2 or 3 Tbsp of this roux will thicken the same as 1 cup of Cajun roux but will lack the distinctive flavour & colour (which a snooty French chef will turn his nose up to anyway)
            Da Cook

          2. re: dhedges53

            Okay, on another thread I wanted a use for a pound of alligator meat and someone suggested I try alligator etouffee so I found this recipe and used it.
            OMG, it was incredible. It's one of the tastiest things I've ever made. You can't imagine how good it was.
            I cut the recipe in half, subbed alligator for crawfish and chicken broth for seafood and pretty much did everything the same. Simply awesome. Thanks for the recipe.

            DT

          3. I respectfully disagree with dhedges and Paul Prudhomme. Especially if you are an inexperienced roux-maker, don't even think about trying to make it in a hurry. And don't use a whisk even when you get good at it. The wires don't make enough contact with the surface of the pan. Use a wide tool of some sort. I have a narrow wooden spatula about 1 1/2 inches wide that gets into the corners and constantly moves the browning flour off the hot surface of the pan.
            When I taught my daughters to make a roux, I didn't use a cast iron skillet because it got too hot and was too hard to control. Wait until you have some practice. I often use a Calphalon Everyday Pan or an All-Clad SS skillet and both work as well as my cast iron.
            The best general discussion of Creole and Cajun rouxs I have ever read is by John Folse of Bittersweet Plantation in Donaldsonville, LA http://www.jfolse.com/fr_rouxs.htm

            I had the last of a batch of Crawfish Etoufée for lunch today. I'll tell you the easy recipe that I learned from my Cajun family. This is simple country cooking.
            You need to make a loose medium-brown roux, using about 1/2 c of the fat of your choosing. In the country, they used vegetable oil or bacon drippings. My mother, who was born in New Orleans, often used butter. Add 1/2 cup flour. Use a medium-high heat and be patient with the roux. Don't answer the phone or let anything pull your attention away.
            When the roux reaches the proper color, add the trinity (1 medium chopped onion, 1 chopped bell pepper, 2 or 3 chopped stalks of celery) and several minced cloves of garlic. Be careful not to splash the roux on yourself. They call it Cajun Napalm for a reason.
            When the veggies are tender, add either a chopped tomato or 2 T tomato paste and 2 cups of water. No need for stock. Bring to a boil, adding one or two bay leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the crawfish tails.and simmer 10 or 15 minutes more.
            You may add salt, pepper, cayenne, and some dried thyme (or just use Tony Chachere seasoning), and chopped parsley. The reason for adding the seasoning later is that crawfish always vary in the amount of salt that they have and it is very easy to oversalt and ruin this dish.

            This is not a complicated dish. Once you conquer roux-making, you're most of the way home if you can make yourself keep it simple. Best with brown rice. A basic green salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Just like in the bayous.

            22 Replies
            1. re: MakingSense

              >>I didn't use a cast iron skillet because it got too hot and was too hard to control.<<

              I "respectfully" disagree with you. Anyone who states the above, as you did, does not understand the purpose of the iron skillet. The very reason you use a thick iron skillet is to control the heat, which you cannot do with copper, calphalon, and clad. Every chef I've ever spoken with or have seen on the various food channels knows, and has stated, this to be true. The calphalon, clad, and copper pans are, specifically, known to have less control of the heat. And, add tomatoes, or tomato paste to crawfish etouffee? Hey, in most cases, when something is recommended, I'll try it. But, that's like throwing a bucket of red paint onto a Rembrandt. I learned my cajun cooking from cajuns. Cajuns who live in Houma, Louisiana and Montegut, Louisiana, the heartland of cajun country. But, like cajuns, I accept and respect another persons opinion. But, I'd rather eat a big Mac then what you just described. Also, I would not despoil etouffee with brown rice. Brown rice, being whole grain, has it's place amongst the Vegetarians, but why destroy what could be a meal of a lifetime with that stuff. I use Stansell rice. It is called "popcorn" rice, a medium grain white rice with a slight popcorn taste. Grown in Louisiana by cajuns, for cajuns. And, you can order a bag on the internet!!!

              Hey, at least we agree on using a roux!!! That's the key to a good etouffee, and fairly simple to master if you take advice from a Master, like Paul Prudhomme.

              1. re: dhedges53

                Cher, you do get upset easily over things that not even people in Lousiana would worry about.

                I will tell you why I use brown rice now. Daddy was the youngest of 14 children on a sugar plantation in one of the River Parishes where his family was the original settlers in the 1760's. My cooking generally passes muster with the enormous extended family - enough that they call me for advise on a lot of things.and we trade recipes. After decades of using Louisiana white rice, and even popcorn and pecan rices, I served brown rice once and to their delight, some of the older relatives proclaimed it to be just like the rice they remembered from years gone by - before new milling and polishing techniques produced what is marketed today. Consequently, for my Creole and Cajun dishes I have been using it because they told me it tasted like what they had when they were younger. I think that it adds some heirloom authenticity. You are free to serve what you prefer. Chacun a son gout.

                A lot of what you say that is "known" or "stated" is simply the opinion of people who cook, not all of whom use cast iron in restaurant or FN kitchens by the way, nor do they practice roux-based cooking. Theirs are no more nor less valid than the opinions of good Creole and Cajun cooks who have thousands of differing recipes and methods of preparing the same beloved dishes from what happens to be at hand in whatever pot they are fortunate enough to own.

                If you finish learning about Cajun cooking from friends in the two towns of Houma and Montegue, and move on to New Orleans, you will probably find out that the addition of a small amount of tomato to crawfish etouf'fée is a common Creole touch which I learned from my New Orleans-born grandmother. The use of tomato is a common distinguishing characteristic between Cajun and Creole cuisines. I have deep roots in both so I swing between them.
                When you go to New Orleans, you will find McDonald's so you don't have to eat food with tomato in it.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  I've made many many rouxs and I use cast iron for most of my cooking, but don't make roux in cast iron. If the heat gets away from me(too hot) and I need the pan to cool down quickly- cast iron doesn't cool quickly.
                  True dat, about Creoles and tomatos.

              2. re: MakingSense

                Y'all have inspired me to make an etouffee, which I never have. My 10 lbs. of wild-caught Gulf shrimp are burning a hole in my freezer. Questions:

                (1) I have both the ~18 to a lb. and the next-smaller size (I just weighed some: 26 to the lb.) I think the smaller are better for this, right? (I don't know how big a crawdad tail is, thought I've sung the song all my life.)

                (2) I'm confused about the discussed difficulty/danger of making the roux. I've been making every color roux for ~50 years, usually in a cast iron skillet, never had the skillet get too hot and burn it or burn myself. I read the John Folse piece and I make my light brown roux just as he says. Is it when you start adding the veggies, etc., that the spatteriing danger begins?

                (3) I have beautiful leaf lard in the freezer. I also have bacon drippings, extra-light olive oil, peanut oil and butter. Do you think any one (or combination of one or more ) of these is better than another?

                1. re: PhoebeB

                  Cont.

                  MS, I think I'll start with your recipe because it sounds much easier than dhedge's.

                  John Folse says the 1/2 cup fat/1/2 C. flour light brown roux will thicken 2 qts. of liquid. You specify only 2 C. or a chopped tomato. No other liquid?

                  As long as I'm shelling the shrimp, might I not just as well make up some shrimp stock? I do want it good and thick, though. How much liquid would you add to the quantity of roux and veggies you give, and how much shrimp?

                  And would it outrage the etouffee aesthetics if I cut the largish shrimp into 2-3 bite-size pieces before adding them?

                  I love green onions. Do you ever add some in addition to the med. chopped onion? I see dhedge's recipe does.

                  Is quick-cooking brown rice OK? That and Basmati are what I have on hand and I want to make this tomorrow.

                  I've never made any Cajun dishes except red beans & rice and dirty rice, so excuse my ignorance.

                  1. re: PhoebeB

                    PhoebeB, I see from your other posts that you are a good cook. Trust your instincts. Most Cajun recipes are pretty ad hoc. They use whatever they have on hand and it always tastes good..
                    If you have been making roux for a long time, you don't need me or even John Folse to tell you how. I rarely mess up a roux, don't burn them often, and I've never burned myself either. I like to use bacon drippings for hearty dishes and for a shrimp etouffée I might use some bacon drippings. You don't need much to thicken two cups or so of liquid.
                    The proportions above were for 1 pound of crawfish tail meat. If your wild-caught shrimp are head-on, you will lose about 40% when you shell them.
                    I would certainly make some shrimp stock with those shells. We never seem to use those big shrimp in Louisiana. Everyone always thought they were too tough or show-y for simple dishes. I guess a lot of the shrimpers also sold those and used the smaller ones at home. No reason other than aesthetics for not cutting the shrimp.
                    Mama used green onions a lot more than I do. When I use them, I usually add them closer to the end of cooking so the don't cook down to nothing or I use them as a garnish. This is another one of those ah hoc choices. No rules.
                    I'd use the quick cooking brown rice. My daughter bought me some brown basmati recently and the flavor was too sweet for my taste with some of the Cajun dishes we cooked. I think you might prefer a neutral flavored rice but it's up to you.
                    Etouffées are simple home cooking. They are not complicated dishes requiring lots of pots and multiple steps. Many recipes are even simpler than mine. Cajuns are just that way.
                    Make a good roux, a good stock and let the pure flavor of the shrimp come through. You'll be fine.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Thank you! My problem is I have no idea what an etouffee is--what the consistency should be, and the more I read about them the less I know. One site I read last night has four recipes, three of which don't even use a roux. http://www.gumbopages.com/food/seafoo...

                      (A roux-less one would appeal to my family, most of whom are low-carb-ers. Have you done it that way?

                      )

                      I know I can come up with something tasty. I just wanted to try the "archetype" the first time I make it so I'll know what I'm playing with from there on out.

                      1. re: PhoebeB

                        Gumbopages is THE source - much better than epicurious for getting close to the real thing in Louisiana recipes. There are many cooks who don't use rouxs in etouffées - they just use butter as the base, so your low-carbers will get their calories there instead. The Bon Ton in New Orleans makes Shrimp Etouffée with butter, no roux. The amount of flour for the roux to thicken 2 cups of liquid isn't much, and it's divided among 4 servings, so this is really your choice. I like the roux version because it coats the rice better.
                        The consistency of a good etouffée is pretty chunky with the diced, softened vegetables and the seafood (shrimp in your case). The sauce should just hold it together and be enough to coat and moisten the rice. Maybe like Chinese food? You should be able to serve it on a nice rimmed plate, not a soup bowl. If you put something else, like a vegetable, on the plate, it won't be swimming.

                        Archetype? Daddy was the youngest of 14 in a large, old Cajun family. I have hundreds of cousins. Every one of them makes archetypical Cajun dishes as do all the other Cajuns that I'm probably related to some kind of way. Almost all of it (except some "tourist" versions) tastes good.
                        How can you go wrong, PhoebeB, if you're a good cook, have good ingredients and don't complicate simple food? Put on some zydeco and let the Good Times roll.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          I'll be forever indebted to Gumbopages for the best dirty rice recipe in the world. It's the only one I ever use anymore (bet I tried 20 before I found it, trying to recreate the only two times I ever tasted it in NO). And looking at the recipe on the website again today I see I can use my shrimp to make Jambalaya with the same recipe, omitting just the gizzards.

                          I think I could live on dirty rice--Tony Chachere's seasoning with some added cayenne and lots of black pepper.

                          I got home from church too late to start the etoufee today, so I'll just peel the shrimp and make the stock; make the etoufee in the morning.

                          I'm thinking now I'll use butter w/a little bacon drippings for my oil, (do it w/a roux this first time), borrow from dhedges the bit about sauteeing the shrimp and green onions in butter for a minute before adding them to the veggies/sauce for the last 10-15 minutes. Tony C.'s seasoning with added cayenne.

                          I'll report back.

                          1. re: PhoebeB

                            The recipe calling for sautéeing first was for crawfish which are parboiled before peeling. And crawfish are tough, needing more cooking than shrimp. So please don't sauté the shrimp as it will probably change their texture.
                            The Bon Ton Restaurant recipe for Shrimp Etouffée calls for 10 minutes total cooking time after adding the raw shrimp. Alex Patout, another Cajun cook, adds his shrimp raw after everything else has simmered for awhile with the stock and allows the shrimp to cook only 5 to 7 minutes. I sometimes add shrimp at the last minute, especially if they are small, turn off the heat, and let them cook in the retained heat of the dish. Depends on the texture that you like for your shrimp. You don't want to overcook them.

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              Well of course! Esp. if I cut them in 2 or 3 pieces. I thaw the big ones by dropping them in a turned-off pot of boiling water for 8-10 min.

                              I'll simmer for a minute or two after I add them and turn off the heat.

                              We lived in Alexandria, LA for several years back in the late 50s and our lawn was always covered with crawdads' red clay "chimneys". I wish I'd known to catch some and learn to cook them. I'll bet I could have snagged 50 of them before breakfast any day.

                              1. re: PhoebeB

                                Crawfish were so plentiful back then. One of the most amazing things to see was a crawfish stampede when thousands of them would dash across a road all at once to get from one marsh to another. Cars would screech to halt, everyone would jump out, scoop up the crawfish, putting them into whatever they could to take home for a feast. Free dinner! I only saw it happen a couple of times and Daddy stopped to let us watch but absolutely refused to let put any in the car. Said he would never get the smell out of the trunk. One of my uncles said that it happened when the saline level rose in a section of the marsh from tides from the Gulf causing the crawfish to flee seeking fresh water.

                                1. re: MakingSense

                                  Sounds like the tarantulas crossing Hwy. 80 at sunrise/sundown in far W. Texas. Awe-inspiring sight.

                                  I have a strange shrimp story to report. This afternoon I made the stock: shells & tails from a generous lb. of shrimp/sliced lemon/garlic/onion/celery/peppercorns/bay leaf/thyme/~2 C. water, brought it to boil, simmered low over a flame-tamer for just under an hour.

                                  Just now I was straining it into a jar and saw that three shrimp had somehow gotten left in with the shells; one peeled, two unpeeled. I started to put them in the trash, thinking they'd be tough as leather, but couldn't bring myself to do it and popped the unpeeled one in my mouth. It was DELICIOUS! Tender, not in the least mushy, good shrimp flavor! I peeled and ate the other two orphans and they were even better.

                                  Now why weren't those shrimp ruined by all that simmering?

                                  [dhedges et.al., no hijacking of thread intended; we're just talking amongst ourselves here.]

                                  1. re: PhoebeB

                                    Just pulled out The Seafood Notebook, the 1983 cookbook by Frank Davis, a New Orleans seafood cook who does local TV down there. His involved explanation of how to boil seafood runs a few pages but you may have accidentally come pretty darn close to his method. Using that flame tamer and with all the stuff in your stock, the temperature may have been below or very close to the boiling point. Maybe lower than you thought.
                                    Davis' method for boiling seafood has a different length of time at a boil for each variety (crabs, crawfish, shrimp) after which the heat is turned off and the seafood is allowed to soak in the spiced stock for whatever length of time you choose depending on how spicy you want the seafood to be. Up to 30, 45 minutes or longer, perhaps even leaving it until the water cools to room temperature. Some people throw ice into the water when they turn off the heat which stops the boiling immediately and causes the seafood to sink down into the stock.
                                    Daddy always did this and I do it too. So actually, I guess that when I boil shrimp, mine are in hot water for a very long time. They aren't boiling any more so they don't keep cooking but they're soaking up the spice. That's why crabs, crawfish and shrimp in Louisiana are so tasty. The flavor is through and through. Never thought about it before. We just do it that way.

                                    1. re: PhoebeB

                                      The last time I was in W. Texas, dodging the Jumping Tarantulas (yes, the disgusting trantula's can jump), at my brothers house, we cooked some 16-20 ct. gulf shrimp. My thoughts have always been to cook them until they turn orange, curl up, and then get them off the fire and into an ice bath. Next time, I'll try the longer method. But, only with a few, until I'm sure it works.

                                      1. re: dhedges53

                                        Frank Davis recommends leaving them in the water about 15 minutes for a mildly spicy flavor. Thirty to 45 minutes for a more pronounced flavor. I personally think that's pretty long for shrimp. He does say to taste them every 5 minutes until you get them to your liking. Remember to dump ice into the pot as soon as you turn off the fire and remove the pot from the stove. That lowers the temperature immediately and stops the cooking. That sudden change in temperature also forces the air out of the shells and draws the seasoned water into them so you really get the spice in there.
                                        It really does work. This is how everybody I ever knew did it, including the seafood stores that sell boiled crabs, crawfish and shrimp.
                                        At least when you get down to the Gulf Coast, shrimp are inexpensive enough that you'll be able to afford to experiment. And you'll have the luxury of wild-caught head-on shrimp.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          Well, I'm still flabbergasted this morning.

                                          I always do my "boiled" shrimp the usual way: bring at least 3 qts. of seasoned water to the boil, turn it off, drop in the shrimp. These big ones I leave in for 10 minutes and then immed. into a bowl of ice water. They're just right for dipping in seafood sauce--firm but tender.

                                          But those three in the stock mixture last night were noticeably more tender--what I'd think the perfect barely-al dente tenderness for something like the etouffee.

                                          And I wasn't even hyper-careful with the stock as I'd be with shrimp.. Didn't keep a close eye on it to be sure to take it off the second it hit the boil, didn't pay much attention to the degree of simmer--adjusted it downward once, lid was tilted part of the time but slipped down to cover the pot part of the time. I even hied myself off to the grocery with 20 minutes of the planned 45 minutes remaining, and it ended up cooking almost exactly an hour. (The neighborhood grocery was closed and I had to go to Shaw's further away. I knew the extra few minutes wouldn't affect the stock.)

                                          I've Googled for 30 minutes this morning trying to find someone who recommends very slow simmering for a long time, checked my newest Fine Cooking (the cover recipe is sauteed-then-simmered-in-sauce shrimp)--nothing remotely similar.

                                          I'm strongly tempted to repeat this process with another lb. of shrimp today. That will make enough--2 lbs.--to do a full recipe of etouffee and freeze half. ( I gather from dhedge's OP that it freezes well.) I'll leave three shrimp in with the shells again, and this time I'll carefully monitor what I'm doing and see if I have the same result.

                                          For comparison's sake I might also try MS's way--leave a few shrimp in the turned-off pot until the water cools to room temp.

                                          (My shrimp are heads-off, BTW.)

                                          (And O yes, tarantulas can jump!)

                                          1. re: PhoebeB

                                            Shrimp texture can vary with species...did you have brown shrimp or white shrimp or pink shrimp or sea-bobs or what? Some folks think that they're all the same, but there are noticeable differences in texture, if you pay attention to such things. I don't think it was your technique, but rather your shrimp that produced the textural difference.

                                            1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                              Their shells are a delicate salmon-pink, snowy flesh. The only description on the pkg. or price label is "Wild Gulf Shrimp".

                                              1. re: PhoebeB

                                                Well, I just made the shrimp etouffee and it's beautiful and delicious and it was no trick at all. I'm not eating it until tomorrow. I like things like this to mellow for a day when possible.

                                                Two lbs.(before shelling) heads-off thawed/shelled/deveined Gulf shrimp, deep med. brown roux of just 2 T. flour and 4 T. butter (After I put the aromatics in the roux I thought they could use the approx. 2 T. of fat from the top of the chilled shrimp stock and stirred it in. I didn't know shrimp shells/tails have fat in them!! Of course 3 shrimp were in there too :o). The Holy Trinity (1 C.onion, 1/2 C@ celery & green pepper), 2 cloves minced garlic and a chopped seeded tomato that needed using.

                                                I softened the veggies in the roux, then added 2 C. of my shrimp stock, 2 tsp. Tony Chachere's seasoning, small bay leaf (not left in very long), 1 scant tsp. cayenne. (Dhedges is right; that's plenty of heat!)

                                                I let this simmer very low for a good half hour before I added the shrimp. I started checking them for opaqueness after ~8 minutes. They were all opaque at ~12 minutes, but with yesterday's experience in mind, I decided to let them simmer on a bit longer. But when I noticed no difference in tenderness one way or another after 5 more minutes, I added parsley, 6 sliced/sauteed in butter scallions w/a lot of green top, a good splash of Bullard's Louisiana Worcestershire (which helped both the color and flavor noticably), and after a minute or so took it off the heat.

                                                I thought it needed thickening a bit, ladled out 2/3 of the liquid and reduced it by about 30%, and now it's just right.

                                                The shrimp are not as tender as the long-simmered ones in the stock yesterday, but perfectly acceptable and I chickened out at leaving them any longer. I'm wondering if at some point in a long slow simmer, shrimp start softening again. Is this possible?

                                                1. re: PhoebeB

                                                  After a long, long cooking time in lots of liquid, the shrimp will indeed soften, but not in a good way. It's more of a mushy, stringy texture, rather than a tenderness.

                                                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                                    That might be what happened with the 3 shrimp in the stock, and I must have I caught them at just the right moment, because they were good.

                                                    I had my etouffee for lunch, and it passed the acid test: my son, who doesn't like shrimp, loved it.

                                                    I tasted it last night, after it had been in the fridg for ~6 hrs., and added two good pinches of Penzey's freeze-dried lemon peel. It was exactly the right thing to do. The improvement today is noticeable.

                2. Hey Guys,

                  When we were at a crawfish cookoff in Breaux Bridge a number of years ago, I was talking to one of the contestants about recipes. His comment was, "You take any of the backroads around here and you will find 50 or 100 people all cooking the same thing with diffrent recipes, one is not more right than the other. If it works for you then it is OK."

                  Remember, these recipes were developed by country folk and they used what they had. A few of the contestants said that in etouffe they used margarine as the fat because that is what people had and because of that it became traditional.
                  But if you like butter or peanut oil better that's fine, too.

                  Any time either of you make your etouffe I would be happy to try it.

                  And Paul Prudhomme, please, he burns his fish and calls it gourmet, and everyone goes for it.

                  1. I was using med to med high heat in a heavy nonstick Caphalon pan. It was the bomb for continual non stick stirring. My bacon grease was mixed w/ a bit of peanut oil. I had a nice wide curved spatula and it did a great job of turning everything. I know it was dang hot as I melted one of what I thought was a silicone spatula in half..LOL Luckily it came apart in 2 pieced for easy recovery.

                    1. >>And Paul Prudhomme, please, he burns his fish and calls it gourmet, and everyone goes for it.<<

                      Hahahaaaa. I have to say, I never heard Paul Prudhomme call his "Blackened Redfish" gourmet, but I sure heard a lot of other people who ate his fish call it "Gourmet". I seem to remember that he was singularly responsible for the endangerment of the redfish in the coastal waterways of Louisiana.. And, it took about 10 years to rebuild the redfish stock to it's wonderful current levels. You know, there might be one or two folks out there who would disagree with you about Paul Prudhomme. But, like you said, if it works for you to dislike Paul Prudhommes recipes, then it is OK. The only reason I mentioned Paul Prudhomme is because, like I said in my post, his etouffee is the closest thing I've seen to the etouffee I grew up loving. But, hey, that's just my opinion.

                      1. I found the Prudhomme recipe very close to what I remembered having in the New Orleans area during my stays there.

                        For those of you in the Northeast: fresh "Maine" shrimp (in-season now) make an excellent crawfish substitute in étouffée.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Dual

                          <I found the Prudhomme recipe very close to what I remembered having in the New Orleans area during my stays there.>

                          Problem is, etouffee is a Cajun dish, not a Creole one and N'awlins is Creole country. There really is a difference between the two cuisines, despite what some restaurants will try to tell you.

                          1. re: Dual

                            For those of you in the Northeast, if you use Maine shrimp, then you have Shrimp Etouffé. If you use chicken, you have Chicken Etoufée. Etouffée means stewed, braised,or smothered.
                            Throw some tomatoes into it and you have a Whatever Sauce Picante. Shrimp Sauce Picante was the precurser dish to Shrimp Creole.

                            Rockycat is correct. Crawfish Etoufée is a Cajun dish. There is a Creole version as well that uses a bit of tomato and you'll find both in New Orleans.
                            Prudhomme's Cajun version is one of many. Frankly, I find it unnecessarily complicated for a simple country recipe.

                          2. A lot of diversity in opinions here, which is good for the board!! I have to agree that adding tomato's to the crawfish etouffee recipe makes the recipe a "Sauce Picante". But, I add a can of tomato's to my Green Chile, and that seems to make it a "Green Chile Stew". So, what can you say. I just wish everyone here could have tried Aunt Te's Crawfish Etouffee. Not only did she use Louisiana Crawfish, as opposed to the widely available Chinese crawfish, she used "Crawfish Fat", from the head of the Crawfish, adding to it's richness. And, somehow, Paul Prudhomme came closest to that taste, for me, with his recipe, IMHO.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: dhedges53

                              Sauce Picante uses a substantial quatity of tomato, not just the small amount used by Creole cooks in many dishes including etoufées. So adding that small dab would not make it Crawfish Sauce Picante, a dish I don't remember ever seeing. I realize you are trying to prove your point here but it's not getting anywhere.
                              There is a perfectly authentic Creole version of Crawfish Etoufée as well as a straight Cajun version which you learned. I make both of them.
                              Next week I'll be in Louisiana. I'll stay a few days in St. James with my 90 year old uncle and his wife and I imagine there'll be no tomato. Then I'll go to New Orleans and there probably will be. They'll both be terrific. And authentic.
                              Everyone uses crawfish fat. Some of the farmed crawfish are actually quite fatty, even a few of the Chinese brands.

                              I'm happy that you are content with PP's recipe. But it is just one recipe and method out of thousands and thousands.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                My maw maw was from New Iberia and my Paw Paw was from New Orleans. So we always had a lttle bit of tomato concasse tossed into the etouffe. My mom and I would parboil crawfish for 5 minutes, peel them all (reserving as much of the fat as possible), then make a stock from the shells.

                            2. A word of caution to roux-makers. I made a roux at a friends house with a Calphalon non-sick pan and ended up ruining it.

                              Took the non-stick coating right off of the pan. Yes, it was high heat, but that's how I start my roux.

                              Start high, then gradually lower the heat as the color approaches.

                              Also, ditto the comments about whisks. Useless. Whisks are for volume. With 1/4 inch of burning liquid, you need to move the mixture off the surface, not stir it. Flat spoons (or wooden spatulas) do the trick very effectively. The longer and wider the better.

                              FINALLY. DON'T MAKE ROUX IN BARE FEET. Jeans, shoes, and even long sleeved shirts are recommended.

                              1. Try looking on www.gumbopages.com. They have some etouffee recipes. You can also check on www.wwltv.com and click on Frank Davis' recipe archives. His recipes are always great.

                                I make my roux in my Le Creuset dutch oven. I've never had a problem. Let the oil heat up, I never let it smoke, whisk in the flour until there are no lumps, then I use a wooden spoon or paddle to stir it until it's the right color for whatever I'm cooking. I also use butter or oil depending on the flavor I want. I've also learned that if you really need to make a quick roux, you can do it in the microwave. Make sure you use a glass, microwave safe container. Mix equal parts of flour and oil together and cook for a minute at a time, stirring after each minute until it is the color that you want. Be very careful when you remove the glass container from the microwave. I don't use this all the time, but if I'm in a hurry, it's better than no roux at all.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: gginnola

                                  Here's how I do it.

                                  Clean the tail meat, and toss with some salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, paprika, and maybe a little olive oil and lemon juice. Set aside for later.

                                  In a 14" pan, melt 1 stick of butter. Add in 1/2 cup of flour, whisk well, and cook on low heat until you get a slightly dark roux (usually takes me about 25 minutes or so). Whisk it often.

                                  Add in ~2 medium onions, 1 or 2 green bell peppers, and 2-5 sticks of celery, all chopped, depending on how much you like those veggies. I always like to use a lot of celery. Soften for a while... ~25 minutes or so. Add in some smashed, chopped garlic, some sage, some thyme, and 3 or 4 bay leaves. Might as well add in some salt and pepper while you're at it. Cayenne, if that's your thing. A few tablespoons of worcestershire and a few teaspoons of tobasco is a good idea as well. I also like to put in a good spoonful of tomato paste as well.

                                  Add in about 2 cups of chicken or seafood broth or stock, and add in the crawfish. Simmer a while... until you like the consistency. I also squirt in some lemon juice right at the end as well. Of course, serve over rice. (This makes enough for use with 1.5 cups dry rice.)

                                  That's my standby recipe. Makes enough for 3 big meals.

                                  Edit: Forgot to mention the green onions and parsley. Chop some up and put in with the lemon juice right at the end.

                                  Edit2: Also, if you have some leftover ham or some tasso or something, add it in with the onions and stuff. I always keep some chopped up "seasoning ham" around for this purpose.

                                  1. re: gginnola

                                    i also like to doux a roux in a large Le Creuset, it is nice and heavy and the white lining shows off the exact color of the roux well (stop cooking a 1/2 shade lighter than the one you want, the heat of the pan will cook it right). i use a flat whisk for roux-- can see why people would have a problem using a balloon whisk, but the flat whisk performs just like the baton lele used to make roux in the caribbean. . .

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      I agree, soupkitten, I always turn off the heat before my roux gets the color I'm looking for. There is definitely enough heat left to finish it! I'm going to try the flat whisk. I've burned myself too many times using a regular whisk. Although, I do like my trusty wooden spoon.

                                      1. re: gginnola

                                        yes, i didn't mean to imply there's anything wrong with wooden spoons-- i don't hesitate to use them for roux-- i just really like the flat whisk for roux and many other sauces, glad you're trying one, they rock!

                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                          About 10 years ago I found at an antique store in MI three wooden stirrers from an old candy-making factory. Straight across at the bottom, sturdy age-darkened hardwood, 1/2" thick, ~ 2 1/2" wide at the flat end, all slightly different lengths-- 12-16".

                                          I gave two to daughters and I wish every day I had them back. The one I kept is in constant use. I have to rinse it off to reuse several times in the course of any cooking project. I never see new ones anywhere, though I know someone must make them. I guess I should check the restaurant supply houses.

                                          Edit: Well, that didn't take long. I found (via another Chowhound thread) this website. They call them "wok paddles".

                                          http://www.littledeer.ca/en/paddles/w...