In Louisiana, crawfish season is usually in full swing at Easter. I remember as a child going crawfishing with my daddy and brothers after dinner on Easter Sunday. I would always bring my Easter basket along in case I got hungry later after a hard afternoon of checking the nets. I remember one year it was unseasonably warm and my chocolate bunny still in the package had melted on the front seat of our blue Ford LTD while we were out. Neither I or my daddy was the least bit happy about the whole scene because of the mess and I didn’t get one bite of chocolate bunny. Not to mention there was a chocolate puddle dripping to the floor of the car!
We always brought the catch home and peeled them right away. My mother was a master with crawfish cookery. She could make the best crawfish bisque- she made a stuffing with the tail meat and stuffed the mixture back into the shells of the crawfish. After that she made a rich crawfish gravy to go along. This dish was the most requested in our house for family meals and birthdays.
She also made a savory Etouffee (cajun stew) on the fly for weeknight dinners that made us swoon. So now when I want to impress my friends, I make this dish. Easy to master, and crawfish tailmeat is widely available at grocery stores these days. It’s a good intro recipe to Cajun Cuisine that can be made at home with little fuss and high flavor.
This dish is great made a day ahead. It gives the spices time to marry. Just heat it and add the crawfish, green onions and parsley at the last minute.
As in all great Cajun dishes, first you make a roux…
There are 4 Stages of Roux- For Etouffee, you will need the one that looks like peanut butter.
Mama’s Crawfish Etouffee
For the printable version, click here
Serves 6-10 depending on how many Cajuns are in attendance.
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup white flour
1 green pepper, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic
Cajun seasoning to taste
2 Teaspoons dry Italian Seasoning
4 cups shrimp or chicken stock
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound crawfish tailmeat
Salt and Cayenne Pepper to taste
4 cups cooked Rice
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
Heat the oil in a medium skillet (black iron works best with a wooden spoon) until almost smoking hot. Add flour and stir like crazy, making sure it gets combined and not burned. Your roux should look like a think paste. If it’s too thin add more flour, too thick, add more oil. Lower heat to medium and cook until the color of peanut butter.
When roux is ready add the the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic to the roux. This will stop the cooking process. Mix well until all vegetables are coated with the roux.
Transfer this mix to a dutch oven. Turn on heat to medium and continue cooking. Add the stock and tomato paste. The stew should thicken up immediately. Keep stirring until all is blended. Add the Cajun seasoning and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and red pepper and cook over low heat for at least an hour, 2 is better. After it turns to more of a stew-like appearance, check for seasoning and add the Lea and Perrins. 10 minutes before you are going to serve, mix the crawfish tailmeat, chopped parsley and green onions in the stew and stir until blended well.Serve over Cajun caviar- Steamed Rice