I’m not sure what it is about Texans. Each year in the early summer, we sport shorty shorts and spaghetti-strap tank tops and drink Mexican beer out of a dirty cooler in a mosquito-infested yard so we can sit around a ridiculously hot boiler and watch 30 pounds of condemned crawfish die. And we like it.
Legit boiled crawfish are really, really spicy. For the love, someone please explain to me WHY it is a good idea to eat really, really spicy crawfish on a really, really hot day? A couple of years ago, S and I went to a crawfish boil in the middle of June. It was 100 degrees outside. My mouth was on fire, my body was on fire, and no amount of Dos Equis could help. The heat went to my head, and I took it out on S. And by “took it out” I mean I actually broke up with him.
Not wanting to risk our marriage, S and I now only attend crawfish boils before after 7pm before June 1. We went to one this past weekend, and, like any good boil, there were about 15 pounds of crawfish carcasses left over. Lucky us, we got the leftovers. I’m not cajun, but I decided to give crawfish etouffee a try with a few helpful tips from a friend and her dad.
Crawfish Etoufee (from De Nacho and her dad)
First, make a roux. There are several methods: microwave, oven, and stove top. I chose stove top, but I was warned that stove top is “hot, time consuming, and dangerous”. Dangerous?
I used about 1 cup oil and 1.25 cup flour. Heat oil to smoking over medium in skillet, then add in flour. Stir until the roux is thick and at least peanut butter colored. I was recommended “dark chocolate” colored, but I burned it:
Usually when I burn things I cry on the kitchen floor. Oh, and that thing about stove top being dangerous? The ghastly oil burn blister on my right ring finger confirmed that. So stir your roux with a pot holder on your hand or else enjoy holding an ice cube while trying to chop your veggies. But since I was home by myself and I had no one to feel sorry for me, I picked myself up by my DIY apron straps and made a new roux. I was a little gun shy during Round 2, so I stopped at peanut butter-colored this time. Took about 25 minutes.
Heat about 4 cups of chicken broth in the pot you intend to finish cooking the etouffee in and keep it warm over low heat. (From De Nacho: I didn’t give an amount for the broth because I’m not really sure how much I use. Etouffee means “smothered” so you should basically end up with what amounts to crawfish tails in gravy. My dad doesn’t like it to be too thick though. I would start with like 4 cups of broth and then you can add more after you’ve added the roux and vegetables if it’s too thick)
2. While the roux is still hot, add the cajun “holy trinity” [3:1:1 ratio of diced onions, celery (yuck – I skipped this), and green pepper] to the hot roux and stir until the veggies start to cook and clump together.
3. Spoon the veggie/roux mixture into the hot broth and stir to combine.
Part 2 Ingredients:
minced fresh garlic
chopped green onions
crawfish tails (I had about 3 lbs)
1 stick of butter (I skimped on this to about 3/4 stick)
salt and black pepper
hot cooked rice (for serving)
Stuff you may or may not need to add (in small amounts) to adjust the flavors:
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic and green onions. Cook for a minute or two and add the crawfish tails. Cook just until they are heated through (cooking them for too long will make them tough and not very tasty).
2. Add them to the roux/vegetable/broth mixture and bring to a simmer.
3. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Add salt and black pepper, cayenne pepper and any of the other things it may need to make it taste right. The sugar and ketchup balance out bitterness a little bit. The Worcestershire sauce might be needed to give it more depth of flavor and the lemon juice might be needed if acidity is missing.
Serve with Tabasco and rice.
I’ve got a friend at work who is from Louisiana, and I got the thumbs up from her, so I’m feeling pretty darn good about my crawfish tails in gravy.
On a completely separate note, I am watching Nine while I write this, and it’s really bad so far. Shame.