I think I’m missing Louisiana food. Tonight I’ve got smothered pork chops cooking to serve over rice, cabbage cooked with bacon and onions, and a squash casserole. Last night I set out to make vegetable soup and somehow ended up making gumbo instead. And then last Friday I made shrimp étouffée.
It was my first time so I’m sure I’ll be tweaking the recipe over time but it was good enough that each of the four of us went back for seconds and we finished the pot. Here’s how I made it.
First you make the roux:
The recipe I was using called for 1/4 cup of dark roux (next time I’ll up that to half a cup). A roux is basically equal parts fat of some type and flour. I was told that a proper roux should be made with Crisco, although I would guess that lard was the traditional fat. I don’t use Crisco and have been unable to find a quality, non-hydrogenated lard so I make my roux with refined coconut oil (the kind that does NOT taste like coconut). Cook the flour and fat together over medium heat until fairly dark or until you get tired of the process. This is the one step that requires vigilance so pour yourself a glass of wine and be prepared to stay right there, stirring continuously. If you let it burn, you’ll have to start over.
Now for the rest of the dish. Here are the ingredients:
- 2 pounds fresh or frozen shrimp, peeled (if you can’t get fresh, try to get Gulf shrimp, not from Taiwan)
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper (green, or a combination of red and green)
- 2-4 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups water, shrimp stock or chicken stock
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- a few splashes of hot sauce
Make the roux first and set aside. In large pot melt butter over medium heat then add onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes or until tender.
Stir in water or stock, tomato sauce, peeled shrimp and spices. Bring to a boil and stir in the roux, whisking until smooth. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp are done (tender and opaque).
Remove bay leaves and serve over hot, cooked rice.
1. Onions, peppers and celery are known as “the Trinity” and form the basis for many Cajun and Creole dishes.
2. Save the shrimp shells in the freezer until you have enough to make your own shrimp stock.
3. Instead of salt and cayenne pepper, you can substitute Creole seasoning. I prefer the “More Spice” version of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.
4. I like to make my roux in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.
5. Here’s a little info about the history of a roux and I was right – lard is traditional.
6. Here is the recipe I used: Cajun Shrimp Etoufee