If I had to choose ONE dish, and ONLY one dish to eat for the rest of my time on this earth, I would choose my mama’s crawfish étouffée. I wouldn’t even have to contemplate it.
This recipe actually originated from our grandmother, whom we affectionately called “BB.” BB was a Louisiana woman through and through and she could cook up a mean roux (heh, I’m so catchy). Our BB lives on through her incredible recipes and we sure hope our étouffée does her proud!
Like every genuine cajun dish, we kick off our recipe with a roux. A roux typically consists of butter and flour. That’s it! Cajuns will use a roux to thicken up dishes like gumbo and, you guessed it, étouffée. The roux is also what gives those New Orleans favorites their muddy brown color and rich flavor. Bottom line is: the roux is crucial.
You know a recipe is going to be good when it starts with an entire stick of butter. Just call me Paula Deen!
Once your butter is melted entirely, slowly stir in your half cup of flour.
Once this process has begun, for the love of God, DON’T walk away! A roux will burn faster than you can say “slap ya mama” if you don’t keep it movin’.
Our BB and our Mom both always taught us to have all of our ingredients ready to go and close enough to grab without taking your hand off that spoon.
Repeat after me: “I promise to never walk away from a roux.”
You’re going to cook your butter and flour on medium-high heat and stir your little heart out. You’re not done until that roux is the color of the muddy Mississippi. Or, as our mom says, the color of peanut butter.
Tip: the darker the roux, the richer the flavor. Sometimes I like to go a bit darker than this, maybe closer to the color of milk chocolate. It’s all preference.
Now, like a good daughter and granddaughter, I had my Holy Trinity already chopped and ready to throw into my roux.
“The Holy Trinity” can be any combination of three vegetables used in Cajun dishes. For BB’s étouffée we use green peppers, onions, and celery.
Slowly add those veggies into your muddy river and continue to stir like a mad man.
Cook on medium heat for about ten minutes or until your veggies are soft.
I usually add my seasonings while the veggies are cooking. Tony Chachere’s is your FRIEND when cooking Cajun dishes. Apply generously.
Once your trinity is soft, begin adding your water.
I veered off from the family recipe a bit and started doing half chicken broth and half water. I’m just so scandalous sometimes.
After your étouffée is a nice stew consistency, you can add in your Rotel.
BB swore by Rotel. The woman would actually crack open a can and eat the stuff with a fork as a snack. She is my inspiration.
At this point, you want to simmer these goodies for about thirty minutes.
After you’re adequately simmered, you can add the star of the show: the crawfish.
Obviously, the better choice here would be fresh crawfish that you shelled yourself, but ain’t nobody got time.
Boudreaux’s has never let me down.
Now it’s beginning to smell a bit like Bourbon street in your house (and I’m not talking about the booze and bad decisions).
It’s best to let your crawfish simmer on low in the stew for about twenty minutes. Time = flavor, chère.
I usually take those twenty minutes of simmer time to cook my rice. Cook yours however you so please. I cook mine in BB’s old rice cooker with a little bit of butter, salt, and white vinegar.
Once your rice is done, the fun begins.
Turn on a little jazz music, mix yourself up a Hurricane or two, and legally change your name to Emeril. You’ve done it. You’re a Cajun cooking machine.
A few times in my life I have ordered crawfish étouffée off the menu at a restaurant and I have been left sorely disappointed. Even in New Orleans! I firmly believe that I grew up eating the best of the best, and no étouffée ever adds up to this étouffée.
Now next time you get your hands on some crawfish tails, go ahead and cook up this classic étouffée recipe and remember to think of our BB. We know she’ll be up in heaven chowing down on a can of Rotel and nodding in approval.
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 1 yellow onion
- black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tbsp Tony Chachere's seasoning
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Rotel tomatoes
- 1 lb crawfish tails
- 3 tbsp chopped green onions, for garnish
- 2 cups cooked white rice, for serving
- Prepare all ingredients before starting roux and have close at hand. Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn the butter. Reduce heat to medium. Add the flour and stir constantly until the roux is a peanut butter color, about 5 minutes. Add onions, celery, bell pepper, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and Tony's. Sauté until vegetables are soft and golden, about 7-12 minutes.
- While constantly stirring, slowly add the water and chicken broth until the roux thickens to stew consistency. Add the tomatoes, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crawfish tails and green onions, season again if needed. Cook on low another 20 minutes, stirring only occasionally to prevent breaking up the crawfish tails. Serve over white rice and enjoy!