When you have family from New Orleans come into town during Crawfish season, it can only mean one thing! We’re having a Crawfish Boil!! And what a glorious boil we had. But in the end, that 40 pound sack of crawfish was more than we could eat in one sitting and that’s how Crawfish Étouffée came to be.Jump to Recipe
I’m no expert on Crawfish boils, I’ll leave that to my husband’s side of the family. But I have learned that there’s a system and precise timing and incredible layers of flavor building in that gigantic pot! We started with a rolling boil of crawfish boil seasoning, then went in the potatoes, followed by heads of garlic, celery, onions and lots of lemons, then came the corn on the cob, mushrooms and then finally the crawfish. Once the crawfish have cooked for 5 minutes, the flame is extinguished and the pot rests while the mixture soaks in the spicy seasonings. If I recall correctly our soak was 20 minutes.
We all sat (or stood – apparently that’s a crawfish boil thing too) around our paper lined table peeling and eating and laughing and enjoying the first chance to be together in over a year. The last time we saw this NOLA crew was at Mardi Gras 2020, just before covid sent us into lockdown.
It was a bit like a scene from Forest Gump! We sat around the table peeling the last mountain of tiny shellfish trying to decide what ‘crawfish’ dish we would make the next day. So many choices, but looking into the beautiful bowlful of tail meat it was declared, we shall make Crawfish Étouffée.
We read dozens of étouffée recipes, including several in Nick’s beloved “Talk About Good” cookbook that belonged to his grandmother. In the end we incorporated a little of this and a little of that to come up with our own version of Crawfish Étouffée.
Like many Cajun or Creole dishes you begin with a roux made with flour and fat. Traditionally Cajun and Creole roux is made with oil which allows it to cook longer developing the deep rich color. Because I wanted to keep this dish ‘lighter’ I opted for butter which is used in the French version. Our target was ‘peanut butter’ color and if roux came in a dozen shades we’d be somewhere near the middle. Making a roux takes patience and a good stirring arm. It’s meant to be a slow process to allow the incredible flavor to build. We used 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup of butter and ours took about 15 minutes, cooking over low heat.
Meanwhile (aka while Nick stirred the roux), I sautéed the Holy Trinity, equal parts of diced celery, onion, and green bell pepper – we used one cup of each and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Recipe note: to all my cajun family and friends please don’t scold me, but I don’t like green bell peppers and more importantly they don’t like me. So I replaced bell pepper with diced poblano pepper and they worked beautifully.
Once the roux reaches the desired color, its stirred into the tender sautéed veggies, along with one cup of chicken broth and a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley. This mixture is brought to a gentle boil, then reduced to low before folding in the the crawfish meat. We had exactly one pound of crawfish tails leftover, which was the perfect amount for 4 servings of Crawfish Étouffée.
While crawfish tails plucked from a giant pile sitting on your backyard picnic table is preferred, for this dish you can replace freshly boiled crawfish meat with a pound of frozen crawfish tails or shrimp, both of which are readily available. They won’t come seasoned so you’ll need to add cajun seasoning when you add in the broth.
We served our Crawfish Étouffée over white rice topped with a generous sprinkle of sliced green onions. The tender crawfish tails bursting with cajun spices were balanced by the buttery roux and veggies. I can’t wait for our next crawfish boil, but I’m equally excited to see what crawfish recipe we try next. There’s crawfish bisque, crawfish pie, crawfish gumbo, fried crawfish, creole crawfish, jambalaya with crawfish…..
For the Crawfish Etouffee
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper or substitute fire roasted poblano pepper (skin removed)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1 pound seasoned crawfish tails add 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning if using frozen
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice prepared according to package instructions
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
For Crawfish Etouffee
- Melt butter in a skillet over low heat. Stir in flour, continue stirring until roux reaches the color of peanut butter. Note: the roux will continue to cook in pan if you're not using immediately.
- Meanwhile, saute onion, celery, green pepper and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high until tender. Add cooked roux to veggie mixture along with one cup chicken broth and fresh parsley. Bring to a gentle boil and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and fold in crawfish tails. Cook for 2-3 minutes until heated through. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Serve Etouffee over cooked white rice with a generous sprinkle of sliced green onion.
Here are a few pics from Mardi Gras 2020.
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