Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Étouffée
This recipe, which should be served over hot rice, comes from Golden G. Richard, III, a self-proclaimed “haute Cajun” from Jennings and New Orleans, Louisiana who is a professor in the Department of Computer Science with a joint appointment in the Center for Computation & Technology. He was heavily influenced by Paul Prudhomme’s recipes for étouffée, and just about everything else. Earlier this year, Richard won a $3.4 million Scholarships for Service cybersecurity training grant from the National Science Foundation.
Please buy local, Louisiana ingredients—Crawfish had a 2018 farm-gate value of $221
million, with commercial production in 33 parishes.
“Please do not buy Chinese crawfish!”—Golden G. Richard, III
Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Étouffée
(Serves 8, or 4 Cajuns)
2 pounds fresh Louisiana head-on shrimp, peeled, with heads and shells reserved for stock
1 pound Louisiana lump crabmeat
1 pound Louisiana crawfish tails
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup canola oil
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter
(about 5 cups shrimp stock, made from reserved shrimp heads and shells)
2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon whole black pepper, toasted until fragrant, then ground
1 teaspoon whole white pepper, toasted until fragrant, then ground
2/3 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Vegetables for stock:
2 onions, washed and cut into quarters (unpeeled)
4 carrots, washed and cut into large chunks
4 stalks celery, washed and cut into large pieces
1 head garlic, washed and cut in half, crosswise (unpeeled)
First make the shrimp stock. In two quarts of water in a big pot, simmer shrimp heads and shells with vegetables for stock until flavorful, about 30 minutes. Strain; discard everything but the stock, which you’ll keep warm as you begin preparing the étouffée. You should get about 5 cups of stock. You can add a little water if less than 5 cups remain.
Next, prepare the seasoning mix in a small bowl by stirring all of the ingredients together; set aside.
Mix the diced onion, celery, and bell pepper (let’s call this the “vegetable mixture”) together in a large bowl before moving half to a second bowl—you’ll be adding this in stages.
To make roux, you must use a cast iron skillet. Heat the oil and flour over high heat (this is the quick chef’s preparation—no need to stir the roux for up to an hour). Whisk constantly (yes, constantly) until the roux turns medium brown to dark red—it goes really fast at the end. As soon as you reach the desired color, you must immediately stir in half of the vegetable mixture followed by the seasoning mix to prevent the roux from burning. (Tip: You must have the vegetable mixture prepared in advance and ready to go, or the roux will burn, and you’ll have to start over.) Next, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables become soft, while constantly mixing and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking or burning. Begin adding hot stock into the roux mixture, stirring or slowly whisking to combine. The desired consistency should be like thick gravy. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet and add the remaining vegetable mixture along with garlic and green onions. Sauté over low heat until the vegetables wilt. Next, add this to the étouffée and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Finally, add the peeled shrimp, crawfish tails, and crabmeat and simmer just long enough for the shrimp to turn completely pink. Thin the étouffée as desired with extra stock or water, add more salt and cayenne to taste. Serve immediately over hot rice.
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