Friday, July 26, 2013

Etouffee - That which is smothered

New Orleans here I come

Etouffee means "smothered". Smothering is a cooking technique that utilizes liquid to braise the ingredients in the dish. Wikipedia has a good description of Etouffe.

Etouffe has a unique flavor profile. Spicy, deep and dark flavor traditionally coat shellfish, served with rice and is a mainstay on New Orleans menus. It can and is found in both Cajun and Creole cuisines. Creole cuisine is considered "City" food and is both fancier and less spicy, while Cajun is simpler, and much more spicy. Originating in the home kitchens of Cajun French of Acadiana, Cajun dishes reflect a home style cuisine.

The following is my twist on Crawfish Etouffee, I have introduced a few non-traditional ingredients such as the addition of pork loin in my version that will provide me with a baseline between this recipe and the next blogs recipe, but rest assured this recipe if followed properly will produce a flavor profile in your resulting dish will be true to the traditional dish. In my opinion this recipe will rival any of the best Etouffe you will find in New Orleans.

My twist is that my recipe is for Crawfish and Pork Etouffee. Who says you can't have meat and seafood in the same dish. Who says you can't add broccoli and peas to Etouffee. I like broccoli and peas. And the pork cuts down on the cost of the dish. There is often good reason to honor traditional dishes exactly, but this isn't one of them. Recipes are flexible, Food is flexible, and my imagination is flexible as well.

So here we go.

Main Ingredients
Main Ingredients from top/left to right:

  • Rice Pilaf
  • Pork Loin
  • Crawfish
  • Green Pepper
  • Onion
  • Scallions
  • Broccoli and Peas
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Chicken Stock

Flavor Agents
Flavor Agents from top/left to right

  • Lobster Base
  • Hot Sauce
  • Maggi
  • Zatarain's (this is more than 3 drops, I only used 3 drops of this)
  • Chocolate Roux

Important: DO NOT add salt to this dish at any time. The ingredients I have in the recipe are loaded with sodium. No extra salt required.


400g - Chicken Stock
25g - Lobster Base - Superior Touch - Better than Bouillon
3 drops - Zatarain's Shrimp and Crab Boil
3g - Maggi
13g - Original Louisiana Hot Sauce
11g - Chocolate (Cajun) Roux - Just an estimate, add little by little, adjust as necessary

  • Add Lobster Base, Maggi, and Hot Sauce to stock
  • Bring stock to a simmer
  • Add roux little by little until sauce will coat a spoon well.
  • Simmer 5 minutes, remove from heat - Place a couple of pats of cold unsalted butter on top, swirl in but not completely - Reserve
Note on the Zatarain's:
Be very careful with this particular flavor agent. I believe it plays an indispensable role in this recipe so don't omit it. But it is VERY strong and salty. When I say 3 drops, I mean 3 drops. Add them with an eye dropper. Taste after each drop to decide if you need another. You can ruin your dish in an instant by adding too much of this. I know, in researching this recipe, I did just that. I added too much, never checked it, made the whole dish and my result was inedible. I had to throw it all out.

Add each ingredient little by little to the stock. Taste at each addition. If you do this you can elect to not add the total amount of any given ingredient until you have your stock's flavor profile to your liking.  Plus it teaches you how each flavor agent changes the flavor profile of the stock. Always add the ingredients in the order I have listed them. Add the roux last and only after the stock is simmering steadily. Be sure to add it little by little, stirring with a whisk constantly until each addition of roux is incorporated. You must be able to add enough roux to thicken properly without overpowering the flavor profile of the stock. If you made your roux properly this should not be a problem. You should be able to take the flavor profile very deep, it can be likened to dark straight black coffee, this is what you want. It should compliment the other flavors not overpower them. It should taste wonderful. Yes there should and will be a "hint" of bitterness to it, but that should NOT be overpowering. If it is you burnt your roux slightly when you made it. If your sauce actually tastes burnt after adding the roux, you really burnt your roux when you made it. If so, start over.

Finished sauce, notice how dark the chicken stock has become. And trust me it tastes heavenly
Butter keeps it from forming a skin while it waits to be used, and adds body to the flavor profile
Swirling complete


270g - Pork Loin - Julienne
10g - Cajun Seasoning - Slap Ya Mama - Regular
  • Combine - reserve and marinate for 1 hour
270g - Crawfish Tail Meat - cooked - whole
10g - Cajun Seasoning - Slap Ya Mama - Regular
  • Combine - reserve and marinate for 1 hour

75g - Green Pepper - diced
75g - Onion - minced
20g - Garlic - minced
100g - Peas - blanched
100g - Broccoli  Florets - blanched
150g - Tomato Concasse - Diced
Rice Pilaf - 1 batch as per recipe in previous blog - Hot and ready to serve
Scallions - green part only, sliced for garnish

  1. It has been 1 hour since you started marinating the pork and crawfish
  2. The sauce is properly flavored and thickened 
  • Preheat saute pan well
  • Saute pork in Virgin Olive Oil until just beginning to brown
  • Add onions, saute until translucent
  • Add garlic, saute until fragrant
  • Add sauce, Peas, Broccoli and Tomato
  • Bring all back to a simmer
  • Make sure before adding the final ingredient (Crawfish) that the dish is finished, i.e. that the sauce is as thick as you want it, and any other adjustments (there should be none) have been addressed. 
It is essential for the outcome of this dish that once added the crawfish can only take being cooked until it's thoroughly heated, any more and it will instantly begin to shrink and become tough.

  • Add Crawfish, cook only as long as it takes for the entire dish to be brought back to "Hot and ready to Serve". Immediately remove from heat and serve with Rice Pilaf and garnish with Scallion.

I have spent many an enjoyable evening sitting in some of the finest restaurants in New Orleans, enjoying authentic Crawfish Etouffee. I can tell you without hesitation, this recipe will produce a resulting flavor profile that is not only identical to those dishes, but with the addition of the non traditional ingredients I have introduced surpases them. 

Sauce ready, saute pan preheated, ready to go

Sauteing Pork

Adding the peppers

Now the onions

Vegetables added

All ingredients in

Ready to serve

Ready to plate


 Pork and Crawfish Etouffee, deep dark flavor, spicy and simply wonderful. 


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