I have been spending quite a bit of time lately with my dear friend Mary Kay from south Mississippi while she is in the upper midwest. Recently she wanted to give back to her friends here in the northland the experience of Mississippi/Louisiana hospitality, so over two days we prepped together and created a dinner of Crawfish Étouffée and Jambalaya. It was a delectable meal of good nature, feasting, and good friends on a cold November night.
I didn’t take many photos of the dinner so instead you’ll have to enjoy some pictures of Scott’s circles that I painted. Mary Kay loves bright colors so I’m sure she won’t mind.
The word étouffée basically means stewed, braised or smothered. Thanks to our Acadian-Cajun compatriots it is also known as a French sauce made from a roux, some kind of seafood or chicken, and the Southern Holy Trinity of vegetables (slightly different from mirepoix) of celery, onions and green peppers. Other seasonings may or may not include cayenne, hot sauce, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, worcestershire sauce, and whatever else anyone’s mama put in it that was a secret to outsiders.
Mary Kay’s friends brought up a few pounds of crawfish tails from Louisiana but we needed more and were amazed to find frozen tails at a grocery store (Hy-Vee) in Rochester. We used the par-cooked tails (no shells) since we were feeding 40 people and didn’t want to spend a day shelling. Ask your seafood supplier if they can special order, or find them online. You’ll want the domestic ones from Louisiana. The frozen shelled crawfish tails are handy because they include the fat—an essential ingredient for deep flavor.
We also stretched the dish with crimini mushrooms. They take on the luscious flavor of the tiny lobsters and impart some of their own umami into the dish.
I (and others) have been spending time with our friend Mary Kay because she is awaiting a stem cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. We’ve been drawn into the world of people on their remarkable and often arduous journeys awaiting and recovering from transplants—it’s such an incredible experience to be around this kind of courage, patience, adaptability, and chosen optimism. Sending much love to you all!
I recently renewed my driver’s license and was so happy to again say “yes” to the organ donor question! No one wants to think about the time when we leave this life, but it is beyond amazing that, if it happens unexpectedly, more life can come from it…sometimes many more lives. Maybe something to think about when you renew your license. Just sayin’.
Finally a photo of the dinner…
A chilly December evening might be the perfect time to enjoy the company of friends and your joie de vivre with this warming Cajun feast!
Crawfish or Shrimp Étouffée
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours
To make the roux, melt in a heavy pot:
1 cup (2 sticks) Butter
1 cup Rice Flour (or flour)
Keep this on low heat until bubbly and light brown. Whisk in:
2 cups Stock—chicken, shrimp or court bouillon (vegetable)
Let this simmer and thicken. Whisk as needed.
Many recipes called for adding the vegetables directly into the roux, but we opted to sauté them separately then add the roux later.
In a large pot melt:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Butter
1 1/2 cups Green Pepper, minced
3 cups Celery, minced
3 cups Onion, minced
1 pound Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
2 Tablespoons Garlic, minced—or more!
Simmer until onions are translucent, then add:
Simmer 20-30 minutes and let it thicken into a gravy.
2 pounds cooked and shelled Crawfish with the fat, or shelled and deveined Shrimp (or chicken)
1/2 cup (1 bunch) Green Onions, chopped
1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Cumin, ground
Dash of Cinnamon
Dash of Cloves
Cayenne to taste
Salt and Black Pepper to taste.
Add more water if needed—it should be the consistency of gravy.
Simmer 10 or 15 minutes, until everything is cooked.
Before serving add:
2-4 Tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice—to taste
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve over white rice, or white rice cooked with Bay Leaf.
Other additions could include:
Louisiana Hot Sauce
Wouldn’t this be amazing material, bedsheets, or wrapping paper?