Delicious, easy and FAST, this Louisiana classic is ready in a snap. Serve this 30 Minute Crawfish Etouffee is with a side salad and slice of garlic bread and dinner is as good as done.
Crawfish Etouffee is synonymous with Louisiana culture and a staple in the Fall as families gather for the return of football and holiday gatherings, just like my Crawfish Queso. Etouffee is ranked on up there on the comfort food list, but it’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner option. It’s so beloved down here that at many restaurants, rather than a side of soup you can get a small side of etouffee when not selecting it as your meal making it where you never have to go without!
WHAT IS ETOUFFEE (pronounced é·touf·fée )? Etouffee is a spicy Cajun stew made with vegetables and seafood served over rice. The word itself, etouffee, means “smother” in French, and in our case, we will be smothering the crawfish tails with onion, bell pepper and garlic in a light roux.
WHAT IS ROUX AND HOW LONG IS MAKING ONE GOING TO TAKE? Roux is the combination of combining a fat with flour, creating a flavorful thickening agent for sauces, soups, stews, etc. There are 4 types of Cajun roux; white, blonde, brown, and dark brown. The longer you cook roux, the darker the roux becomes. While a homemade gumbo (which uses a brown-dark brown roux) base can take anywhere from 45 minutes or so to reach the desired coloring, a light roux is created in a matter of a couple of minutes. This crawfish etouffee will use a light brown roux and won’t take long at all.
WHAT DOES CRAWFISH TASTE LIKE? I get this question all the time from my northern friends, and I think the easiest way to describe it, is a cross between shrimp and crab; a bit sweet, salty, with a firm texture (if not overcooked). Once you’ve had them once, you’ll crave them forever!
WHERE DO YOU GET CRAWFISH? While here in the bayou state we wish every season was crawfish season, crawfish season typically begins in mid-January and runs through early-July down here. Luckily, though, frozen crawfish tails are available year round. Be careful when purchasing frozen crawfish, though. If it says the crawfish were raised in China, walk away, and use shrimp for this recipe instead.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE CAJUN/CREOLE SEASONING? You can make your own! Here’s my easy recipe: Homemade Cajun Seasoning.
Most Cajun recipes like etouffee and gumbo will call for using the “Holy Trinity” – a combination of onions, celery and bell peppers. I don’t care for the texture of celery so I rarely use it, but you could certainly add a bit (1/4 cup or so) to this recipe when you saute the onions and bell peppers.
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere's, Zatarain's)
- 1 pound Louisiana crawfish tails, with fat
- sliced green onions, garnish
- cooked rice
*Prep your vegetables first since making the roux will require your full attention.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and stir in the flour; cook and stir CONSTANTLY for about 4-5 minutes or until the roux turns a caramel color.
Add the onion and bell pepper, saute until tender and translucent; about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
Gradually add the broth and stir until well incorporated and thickened. Add salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning; mix well. Add the crawfish tails and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the crawfish are heated through, stirring occasionally.
Serve with a scoop of cooked rice and garnish with green onions.
As ease and convenience has taken its place in the world, so do recipes calling for canned soups or premade etouffee bases and you can certainly use those items, but this recipe won’t take much longer to make your roux from scratch. You can also substitute the butter with olive oil to make things a little healthier.
Speaking of healthy, I cannot think of crawfish etouffee without thinking of Baton Rouge’s beloved cookbook author Holly Clegg. Our last time together, before she was diagnosed with cancer that would take her too soon, was spent in her kitchen as she made crawfish etouffee for the Louisiana Crawfish Board. I invited her to meet for coffee to chit chat about her publisher who acquired my Picnics book but she instead invited me over to her home, and instructed me to bring my camera and help her style a recipe.
Her assistant snapped this photo of us selecting props and my amazement at one of her three prop closets. The photo hangs from my bulletin board as a constant reminder of what it means to live life confidently and passionately, each and every day because you just do not know what’s on the horizon.
I hope you’ll make and share this crawfish etouffee recipe with someone special to you as well.