recipes

Shrimp Étouffée

I have long sought a delicious étouffée and have been known to order it at cajun restaurants.  However, I am ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS disappointed when I do because it NEVER tastes like the crawfish étouffée that my Granny used to make.  Thus, I had low expectations when I tried this (also, I’ve never successfully made roux, so the world was pretty much stacked against me).  Much to my surprise, this shattered my expectations and was delicious, while maintaining a spice level that didn’t make me cry!  Also, it makes a ton of food and the leftovers are even better than the original.

Serves 8 and reheats very well.

INGREDIENTS:

  • For Seasoning:
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
    • a good bit of freshly ground black pepper (I’m not going to grind pepper and then measure it, but I’m guessing it was at least a teaspoon.)
    • 1 tsp basil (you probably want to use dry rather than fresh)
    • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (YOU GUYS, I made my own vegetable stock.  As I was doing it I thought ughhhhhhh this is so ridiculously extra there is no way this is necessary, but by the time I was done thinking my complaints I had already finished all of the work necessary to make the stock!  So you can use store bought, but it’s super easy to make your own.  Just saying.)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 pounds shrimp (OR you can use crawfish!)
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 4 cups cooked rice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix up your seasoning and put it in a small tupperware.  You actually don’t use all of it, so you will then have enough pre-mixed to use the next time you make étouffée– and THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME.
  2. Chop up your veggies.  Do this now because there will not be time later.  If you’re starting early enough in the day, go ahead and throw your veggie scraps into a pot to make your stock.  So easy.
  3. Using your big cast iron skillet (or your enamel cast iron skillet because that’s the easiest one for you to get to), heat your vegetable oil over high heat until it is ridiculously hot (give it several minutes).  With a metal wisk, slowly mix in the flour.  You are basically frying your flour.  This is how you make roux!  Wisk it constantly until your roux is the desired dark reddish brown.  I have no pictures of this process because I only have two hands and this requires full attention.  My child ate a crayon while I did this because I was helpless to intervene.  Also, next time, I would let my roux get a little bit darker than I did this time.  I just got nervous.
  4. When your roux reaches your desired color, remove the pan from heat and immediately stir in your pre-chopped veggies (I told you there would be no time to chop them in the moment!) and one tablespoon of your seasoning mix.  Stir all of this together and keep it moving for about 5 minutes.  You want it to cool enough that the roux won’t continue cooking in the pan.
  5. Pull out a 2-quart saucepan and bring 2 cups of your stock to a boil.  Gradually add the roux and veggie mixture, stirring until thoroughly dissolved.  It will make a pretty thick gravy.  Then remove this from heat and set it aside.
  6. In a bigger pot (I’ll use a dutch oven next time- I used my cast iron again this time to avoid dirtying more dishes, but it really wasn’t big enough), melt one stick of butter.  Add the shrimp and green onions.  Cook it until it is thoroughly heated through, stirring constantly.  Since I used frozen shrimp that didn’t totally thaw in the refrigerator beforehand, it took a few minutes for me.
  7. Add your second stick of butter, the stock/roux gravy, and your final cup of stock.  Cook that up until the butter is melted.  To mix it together, use a constant back-and-forth shaking motion (this is where I regretted having a too-small pan).  The shaking will help the fats to mix with the stock better so that there is less oil separation in the end.  Obviously, if you have to mix it by stirring instead, it will work and taste fine, it just won’t look exactly right.
  8. Serve étouffée atop hot rice and enjoy!
IMG_20171017_150857
I made my roux this dark. Next time, I’ll try going a little darker, but honestly it was delicious this way too!
IMG_20171017_163141
Obviously, my pan is too full. I didn’t feel comfortable shaking to mix with so little space, so you can see a good bit of oil separation. No big deal.
IMG_20171017_164347
Still delectable.

PRO TIP: If this isn’t spicy enough for you, you CAN add the rest of your seasoning mix during step 7.  I choose not to do that because I’m not a masochist.

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