Brenda’s “Why Is This Always So Hot” Shrimp/Crawfish Etouffee

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Brenda Girod (okay, she married a French guy so don’t pronounce it Guy-rod, it’s “jee (soft j) row” was one of my closest friends in D.C. She and a couple of others, and eventually her husband after they finally got tired of traveling the Atlantic to see each other, were the hardcore contingent who had to be guinea pigs for all of my cooking endeavors.
Each time we did this, Brenda always complained it was too hot. But it’s great and will definitely make you sweat on the top of your head.
And in honor of Brenda, we’ve included the original “John, this is way too hot, where’s the water, my mouth is on fire” version. We don’t think it’s that hot.

Seasoning mix:
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ cup purple onion, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups in all, seafood stock. Warning: read below first
½ pound of butter
2 pounds peeled crawfish tails or medium shrimp. SAVE THE SHELLS
1 cup very finely chopped green onion
4 cups rice

Combine the seasoning mix very well in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the onions, celery and bell pepper.

In a large skillet, we use a cast iron one for this dish, heat the oil over very high heat until it just starts to smoke. With a VERY long handled whisk, gradually mix in the flour. Add just a little bit at a time. If it starts to burn, pull it off the heat. Basically, you are cooking the flour. It might take a couple of times, but you’ll get the hang of it. When it doubt, pull it off the fire. Whatever you do, keep stirring the flour constantly, slowing adding until it’s all in.

What you’re making is known as a roux. You want to keep cooking the roux until it’s a dark red-brown color. That does not mean black.

Once you have the color, immediately remove from the heat and stir in the vegetables and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring.

In a two-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups of the seafood stock to a boil over high heat. Here’s how to make the seafood stock: take the shells from the shrimp and throw them in a big pot filled with water. Throw in a couple of garlic cloves, a stalk of celery, cut up onion and let everything cook. First bring to a boil and then just slowly slimmer that just keeps the water bubbling. You can cook this for hours if you want, just remember to keep adding water. Or, you can do it in 30 minutes or so if you are in a rush.

Slowly add the roux to the seafood stock and whisk away until dissolved. Reduce heat to low and keep cooking for about 5 minutes until the flour taste is gone.

In a large saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter over medium high heat. Stir in the shrimp or crawfish and green onions and sauté for about a minute – stirring all the time. Add the remaining stick of butter, the stock mixture with the roux and the remaining 1 cup of seafood stock.

Cook until the butter melts and is mixed into the sauce. The best way to cook this is to move the pan back and forth verses stirring. I don’t know why, but it keeps the sauce from separating.
Add the remaining seasoning mix, mix well and serve in a bowl with rice.

Have plenty of your favorite cold beverage on hand.

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