Ay-too-fay, or etouffee is a quintessential dish here in Nawlins. Etouffee is found in both Cajun and Creole cuisine. It is typically seafood over rice. The process is known as smothering, a popular Cajun cooking method here in Nawlins. Etouffee can be made from different shellfish, making the most popular version the Crawfish Etouffee. It is highly seasoned and thicker than a typical seafood stew. Etouffee is almost always served over rice, and made from a roux.
The Creole version uses a brown or blonde roux. A blond roux, despite any jokes you might think I would tell, is cooked for 20 minutes, and stirred constantly to remove the “raw” flavor of the flour. The result is a slightly “nutty” flavor, while a brown roux is cooked longer to make the color deeper and darker brown.
Contrary to popular belief, the dish has only been around officially for 70 years. Though it was popular with Cajuns in the area, it had not been in the area’s many restaurants. The story goes that a waiter at Galatoire’s brought the dish in for his boss to try. Needless to say, it was a hit, and became a part of the menu almost instantly.
Here are the ingredients of a typical crawfish etouffee:
•8 ounces butter, divided
•1/2 cup flour
•1/2 cup chopped onion
•1/2 cup chopped green pepper
•1/2 cup chopped celery
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon thyme
• 2 cups fish stock
•2 pounds crawfish tails, peeled
•1 cup chopped green onions, with tops
•2 to 3 tablespoons sherry or good brandy, optional (I say not optional, and can always be consumed!)
Make a roux with 4 ounces of butter and flour, cooking over low heat until flour is dark brown; stirring constantly, 20 to 30 minutes. Keep heat low and stir constantly to prevent scorching.
Add the chopped vegetables and seasonings; cook until vegetables are softened. Gradually stir in stock and let simmer 15 minutes or until thickened.Add crawfish, green onions, remaining butter, and sherry; bring to a simmer. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes, cover, remove from heat, and let sit 15 minutes. Serve hot around a mound of rice.
I am sure that by now, all the big name Nawlins’ chefs are making this. If you decide to make it, I will bring the champagne and the king cake!!!!