Etouffée, New Orleans on my mind

With Mardi Gras approaching, we decided to make étouffée last weekend. New Orleans must have been on our minds.

Cajun dishes such as étouffée are hearty stews made with rustic ingredients.

Cajun dishes such as étouffée are hearty stews made with rustic ingredients.

I wasn’t so keen on the idea because I didn’t get home from errands until 6 p.m. Saturday, and that’s when the Intrepid One and No. 2 son proposed making the spicy Cajun stew. I was about to balk — let’s just get on with a simple meal, I was about to say — when they showed me they had prepped everything, and all I had to do was put it together, following the recipe from Saveur’s April 2013 issue. Things were looking better when I saw bowls of chopped scallions, onions, green pepper and celery. I looked around and saw a cutting board with finely chopped garlic, thyme and parsley. And the other ingredients were on the counter, ready to be called into service.

OK, I was on board, big-time. All I had to do was get the rice cooker going, make a green salad and put the étouffée together.

Étouffée comes from the French étouffer, to smother or to suffocate, according to the “Food Lover’s Companion.” It is a hearty stew of vegetables and seafood, often Louisiana crayfish, made with a roux as its base.

I’m glad I didn’t settle for simple. This recipe is fabulous, company worthy and not that hard to make.

Crawfish (or in our case shrimp) étouffée

4 slices bacon, finely chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 scallions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, minced
1 ½ tsp. finely chopped thyme
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup flour
2 ½ cups fish or chicken stock
2 lb. parcooked peeled crawfish tails
⅓ cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. Original Louisiana hot sauce, plus more for serving
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
⅓ cup finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
Cooked white rice


Heat bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat until rendered, 3 minutes. Add butter, scallions, garlic, celery, onions, tomatoes, and peppers; cook until soft, 7 minutes. Stir in thyme, paprika, cayenne, bay, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until reduced by one-third, 12 minutes. Add crawfish; cook until hot. Stir in cream, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and parsley; serve with rice and more hot sauce.

 — Saveur, April 2013



Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 52 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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