Etouffée is a Cajun dish in which a main ingredient (usually shellfish) is smothered in a chunky sauce made of stock, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Crawfish is the most popular version of étouffée; shrimp is easier to find and equally delicious.
Cajun cuisine comes from Acadian immigrants deported from Canada to Louisiana in the 18th century who brought French culinary techniques to locally available ingredients. Crawfish étouffée is a prime example of a perfect pairing of the two cultures. Serve with white rice.
Given the number of ingredients in this dish, make sure to chop your vegetables and portion out your spices ahead of time.
- 6 slices of bacon, chopped
- 1 Teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 Teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 Cup white rice flour
- 3 Cups chicken broth
- 1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
- 2 Pounds crawfish or raw shrimp
- 1/4 Cup heavy cream
- 2 Teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
In a large skillet, sauté the bacon on medium heat until crispy, about 6 minutes. Add the butter, onion, celery, and bell pepper and simmer until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato and shallot and sauté until the tomato softens, another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the flour and continue to sauté until the flour imparts a toasted smell, about 2 minutes. The mixture will be really dry at this point, and some of the flour may start to stick to the skillet, which is fine. Stir in the broth, salt, and pepper and simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces to the consistency of gravy, about 6 minutes.
If using crawfish tails, gently stir them in and simmer until warmed through, about 2 minutes. If using shrimp, stir them in and simmer until cooked through, gently stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. You’ll know that the shrimp are fully cooked when they are pink and opaque and start to curl.
Remove the heat and stir in the cream, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and most of the parsley. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with white rice or cauliflower rice and extra hot sauce, scattering the remaining parsley on top right before serving.