04 May 2010

Video: Louisiana Chef Makes Crawfish Etouffee

From Denny: This video is great for demonstrating how to make a roux fast and furious on the stove. If you are unfamiliar with how to make a roux then this video will prove useful. Making a roux to the desired color of choice is all about preference. New Orleans uses a very dark roux the color of milk chocolate, sometimes darker. In Baton Rouge we go for a lighter roux about the color of caramel candy.

The traditional roux most people know is what you use for a cream sauce - but you don't take it to the darker stages before adding water, milk or cream. A traditional roux is where you heat a pan, add butter or oil, then add flour until well dissolved, then adding the liquid quickly. The key to a good roux in Louisiana cooking, besides the color which adds a richer roasted flavor since you are basically pan roasting the flour, is to cook the roux and liquid for at least 30 minutes to cook out the flour flavor and glue like texture. That's when the dish gets to shine as awesome flavor, playing up the spices.

Since this is a local food video, and the local media doesn't usually keep embedded videos available past one year, I've included some recipes for crawfish etouffee and smothered crawfish (about the same thing).

Smothering your food sounds a bit psychopath to people outside the American South but it's a favorite of the slow food mindset in country Cajun cooking. What are some of the essentials for this smothering technique? You have to bring on board The Holy Trinity of diced onions, bell pepper and celery - along with some salt, pepper and garlic powder.

The smothering technique is also used for meat dishes like pan fried pork chops that are then covered and cooked with a small amount of liquid and veggies, creating a gravy. Basically, it's a kind of braising. First you sear the meat, then add the onions, bell pepper and celery, then the flour. When you add the flour this way you get a lighter brown roux. Add your liquid of choice and you don't have to worry about getting lumps in your gravy. Just cover and slow cook for a while until desired tenderness. Easy as can be!

It's one of those low maintenance dishes you can ignore for 30 minutes to an hour or keep on low heat until ready to serve. These kinds of slow food smothered dishes work well for busy households where everyone is on the go with different schedules but want a home cooked meal ready and waiting with ease. In the South we even smother potatoes and other vegetables besides meat dishes.

Chef Joe Caton, of Louisiana Lagniappe restaurant in Baton Rouge, serves up a classic Louisiana crawfish etouffee. He only offers this dish when the crawfish are in season and fresh. Be sure to visit Louisiana during crawfish season which lasts through May! The rest of the year you will only find the crawfish tails frozen.

If you don't have access to crawfish in your area then consider using shrimp, oysters or a meaty fish as any of those choices are equally wonderful!

Smothered Crawfish

From: The Louisiana Seafood Bible: Crawfish cookbook by Jerald and Glenda Horst

Serves: 4-6

Smothered Crawfish


1 stick butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 small bell peppers, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls. flour
2 lbs. crawfish tails
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Cooked rice


1. Melt the butter in a cast-iron Dutch oven over low heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and garlic. Sauté over heat until the onions are transparent.

2. Add the flour and stir until blended.

3. Add the crawfish, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve over cooked rice.

Tip: Smothering works best in a cast-iron pot over low heat. Take your time and do not rush this dish.

More recipes for Crawfish Etouffee from this blog:

Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee From Lafittes Landing - Famous Louisiana Chef John Folse

New Orleans Recipes: Crawfish Etouffee, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Jambalaya, Sazerac Cocktail

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