1, Mar 2009
Crawfish Etouffee

Crawfish etouffee has long been one of my yearned-for favorites — cajun restaurants are hard enough to come by (here anyway), good ones even harder, and good ones that offer etouffee as well as jambalaya/gumbo harder still. So when I came across crawfish at central market I figured what the hell — might as well try to make my own. I’ve also never made a roux and heard that it was hard to get right, so I thought it would be a good experiment.
I lifted the recipe from this one, which I chose mainly because it was fairly simple, specifically called for frozen crawfish (I don’t have fresh), and used a roux (there’s a controversy over whether etouffee uses a roux and what kind).
How did it come out? Okay. I admit I took numerous liberties with it for various reasons, so I wouldn’t count out the recipe itself. First, I don’t think I cooked the roux long enough, because I was afraid of burning it. Second, I used a red onion (all we had handy) when a yellow is probably more appropriate. Third, no bell peppers because E detests them (probably an unforgivable mistake, since green peppers are part of the cajun holy trinity). Fourth, I think I ended up with too much liquid because there was some in the crawfish package. The final result was a little too liquidy, didn’t quite come together into a coherent unit, and needs some work on the flavor. Though I have to say, the next day it’s thicker and more flavorful. And anyway it was still pretty good, just not quite the Joe Dale’s etouffee (that’s an Atlanta reference for those in the know) of my youth. I’ll probably try it again, along with others.
Update: some helpful ideas for the recipe on facebook.

1 pound fresh or frozen, peeled, cooked crawfish tails (or shrimp)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 c)
1 c finely chopped celery
1 shalot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
3/4 c water
1/2 c sliced green onion
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Hot cooked rice
Fresh parsley (optional)

Thaw crawfish, if frozen. Meanwhile, stir flour and 1/4 c oil together in a large saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then medium for 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly, until a reddish brown roux is formed. Add onion, celery, shallot, and garlic to saucepan. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp butter and stir until melted. Stir in water, green onions, salt, ground red pepper, and black pepper. Bring to boiling. Add crawfish. Return to boiling, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, until it looks right. Serve over rice and garnish with parsley.
As I said above, it came out okay. Next time I will: use a yellow onion (and probably skip the shallot), add 1/2 c green pepper, add 1/4 c fresh parsley with the green onions, squeeze out liquid from the crawfish (or include it in the 3/4 c water), and cook the roux a little longer.