As I mentioned the other day in our post about Crawfish Gumbo, gumbo was the winner of the FoodMayhem Reader’s Choice: Crawfish Season, receiving 35.7% of the votes. In second place, with 30.4% of the vote, was Crawfish Étouffée. Honestly, we were pretty disappointed that these two won. They’re delicious dishes, but they’re about as standard as it comes when using crawfish. The other choices were much more interesting.

Crawfish Etouffee 3

Unlike gumbo, I haven’t made étouffée before. I have, however, eaten a good bit of it. One annoying thing is that there aren’t many strict rules. Outside Louisiana, people use cream, in LA: no cream. Originally there were no tomatoes, however most recipes now include some tomato product, even cajun and creole chefs. Some cooks vehemently oppose butter, while others think it’s critical. Some use blonde roux, some use dark roux, some avoid roux altogether. Frankly, it’s hard to find a definition for what étouffée really is!

So, here’s how I approached the problem. Étouffée is so named for the style of cooking seafood. Unlike a quick cook-through, as done in gumbo (adding seafood at the end of cooking), étouffée braises the seafood, low and slow for at least 20 minutes, but some recipes go for 40-60 minutes. Étouffée is meant to be thick and rich. I assume this is why non-Louisianians add cream and why there is debate over the roux.

My étouffée came out tasty, but way too wet. The color of the sauce was pretty accurate: a light orange. It was savory, due to my use of butter in the making of a blonde roux, but since I went with butter, I skipped any cream.

Crawfish Etouffee

I also had an idea to serve the étouffée in vol-au-vent, rather than over rice (the traditional way). This worked out really well. The little pastries are perfect serving containers: they’re super rich and look beautiful. They’re a perfect accompaniment for the étouffée.

make Crawfish Etouffee

Because my étouffée was too wet, I’m not going to post a recipe. Normally, we’d try again, but because of how expensive the not-so-great crawfish is here, we’re going to leave this one alone. Rather I’m just giving advice. And we will post a technique for creating these beautiful serving pastry.

Étouffée Advice

  • Don’t use cream, but do use butter in the roux.
  • Once the base is done (roux + veggies + liquid), add your crawfish and braise for at least 20 minutes. I personally don’t think longer is necessary.
  • Using tomato paste is fine, it will help thicken the sauce, add a good color and flavor, and it’s not uncommon these days.
  • Chop your veggies fine (finer than I did), you want to highlight the crawfish, and they’re pretty small.
  • Serve in vol-au-vent pastries. They’re easy to make, taste incredible, and perfectly suit this dish.
  • In addition to butter, you need a bit more fat to handle the long cooking time. Traditionally you should use crawfish fat, but I couldn’t get enough. So I used vegetable oil, that’s perfectly acceptable, but definitely second rate.

Vol-au-Vent Technique

Step 1. Cut puff pastry into squares. Make cuts, like seen in picture below. Cut so two opposite points meet, and the other two don’t quite meet.

making vol-au-vents

Step 2. Lift the two side, where the points were cut through.

making vol-au-vents 2

Step 3. Fold across both sides.

making vol-au-vents 3

Step 4. Press corners into opposite corners.

puff pastry for vol-au-vents

Step 5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until golden and puffed up.


Step 6. Plate and fill with Etouffee. Serve immediately.

vol-au-vent Crawfish Etouffee 4
posted by Lon at 02:51 PM Filed under Un-Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.