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Recipe for real etouffee [moved from New Orleans board]

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[We've moved this recipe from the discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/880900 -- The Chowhound Team]

Hazel - why dont you post a recipe for real etouffee for us?

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  1. Sure: garlic, onion, bell pepper..no celery becuase no one grew it in the backyard which is where the stuff came from. Sautee the stuff in crawfish fat and/or butter , Add salt/pepper. My ace informant says no tomato ever because when crawfish were in seasaon, tomoto hadn't ripened yet (But another cook in Lafayette does put some tomato sauce in his "for color") One guy from the area around Nina, which is between Breaux Bridge and Henderson, and which is where etouffee emerged from the swamps into public view, adds an ice cube when he puts in the crawfish. He stirs this until it melts and then does it with two more ice cubes (I have replaced the water cube with a crawfish stock cube or sometimes chicken stock). This recipe has gotten him banned from cooking contests because it always wins. Anyway, warm it all up, plenty of crawfish fat as I indicated, and throw some parsley on it--almost always dried parsley when I was a kid--and dump it over rice. Fast and cheap. No waste of fuel making a roux.

    This is based on years of research and driving around South Louisiana. I found what I believe to be the progentitor of the recipe in Burnside, LA, courtesy of a now-93 year old man who described his mother's technique. (It should be recalled that people did not admit to eating crawfish in the 1920s and 1930s. In fact, the WPA Guide writers remarked that malnutrition in Louisiana could be attacked by convincing people to eat "crayfish." Pat Huval, of Pats Fisherman Wharf Restaurant in Henderson, LA, told me that although he ate crawfish as a kid he didn not let on because it was thought of as poor people food and it was a public shame. Same was true, he said, of coon and turtle.) My friend's mother took live crawfish and threw them into an iron pot of boiling water. She boiled them for just a minute or so, enough to kill them. Poured them into a collander. Twisted the tails off and threw them in a bowl, then knocked the carapace aginst the side so that the yellow fat fell out. When she had finished with this, she melted the fat and then threw the peeled tails in and sauteed them, then threw it all on rice. Nothing else but salt and pepper. I think the addition of onion and garlic came later. The use of Cream of Mushroom soup as a thickener and a binder seems to have come out of hunting camps in the 1950s. I have not been able to concoct an accurate map of the canned soup version territory but I do know that one of its western termini is at the ditch on Highway 14 as you enter Delcambre. East of that line you can add the cream of mushroom. Across it, by that little seafood market with the snow shovel to dump ice in your cooler, you'd be shot for the heresy.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hazelhurst

      I'm firmly in the camp of no tomato (sauce, paste, whatever). No roux. Cook the peeled tails in a little butter & garlic until the fat renders, then cook down a whole bunch of onions, bell pepper, and celery (it has always been in supermarkets during my lifetime)...I mean plenty...it's the "melted" veg that thicken the sauce. Season with lots more garlic, a little cayenne, a tiny bit of allspice, and put the crawfish tails back into the mixture. No damn cornstarch, no cream of whatever soup. Just cooked down aromatics, crawfish tails & fat, and seasonings. If you are lazy about cooking down the veg, it won't have any body or color. Don't hurry that part.

      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        I do not think I have ever encountered allspice. Justin Wilson used to add white wine as he was sweating the vegetables. He, too, used a lot of celery. Pat Huval's Camp Etoufee is a good example of the fairly quick one...the vegetables are larger, roughly cut and sauteed until soft but not really disintegrating.

        1. re: Hungry Celeste

          Bravo!!! ~ Standing Ovation to Celeste and Hazelhurst!!! ~ Bravo!!

          No Roux!! ('If you maker a Roux...you make a Stew')...which can be tasty but it ain't Etouffee!!)

          No tomato products!! ~~ The color comes from the "fat" and well cooked vegetables!

          Canned soup??? ~ Seriously? ~ Really? ~ not no, but Hell No!!!

          Cheers to both of you!!!

        2. re: hazelhurst

          That's the recipe my father in law uses (from his Acadien mother), but I prefer making it with a blonde roux made with butter. Otherwise, it's the same ingredients. My great aunt, wife of the former long-time mayor of Breaux Bridge Louis Kern (he also owned the dock in Henderson), always makes an etouffee on the last day of the crawfish festival. She uses a roux.