Nov 8, 2009

A Stab at Shrimp Etouffee

I keep a list of indulgent seasonal meals to make on the weekends, when I allow myself to eat something unhealthy I disallow during the week. It's something fun to look forward to, keeps me motivated to cook new things and keeps me from forgetting good ideas when they come to mind.

One of the first items I knocked off that list this fall was this shrimp etouffee. I'm a huge fan of New Orleans cuisine. I love the spice, the meats used, like crawfish, shrimp, sausage and chicken, love the flavorful trinity of vegetables used and the richness these meals share in common that feels so right in the colder months. While the recipe I followed tasted pretty good, I can't give it a full endorsement after having made it. Here's why...

Classic New Orleans cuisine, dishes like gumbo and etouffee, all require a special base of perfectly cooked ingredients in order to achieve the right overall flavor and texture. There are lots of recipes out there that are hacks - sometimes involving the use of canned cream of mushroom or celery soup to shortcut the traditional roux, which can take quite some time to get right. This recipe was not one of those recipes that looks for a shortcut... I specifically made sure that it didn't before I made it. The problem was that it didn't explain how long to wait for the roux to reach the desired color and flavor. And it provided too high a ratio of flour to butter. After researching other recipes after making this one, I realized it called for about a quarter cup more flour than it needed... which explains the slightly floury taste and excessive thickness of the end result I achieved.

The other issue I experienced was really my fault, which was that I used a pot that didn't have a wide enough base. Too little hot surface area equated to undercooked veggies and, thus, too little of their flavor incorporated into the etouffee and at the same time having too much crunch.

All things considered, it still was pretty darn tasty, but I'm going to look for different recipes. Also going to look into getting crawfish, which makes the BEST etouffee. Here's the recipe I used, from Emeril Lagasse on


  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, or dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 4 cups steamed long grain white rice
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour to make a roux and cook to peanut butter color. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the water and stir well. Add the Essence, and bay leaves, and reduce the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, sherry, parsley, and thyme, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook just until they curl and turn pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the green onions and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

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