Étouffée is a Cajun dish in which a main ingredient (usually shellfish) is smothered in a chunky sauce made of stock, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Crawfish (or yabbie) is the most popular version of étouffée; shrimp (or prawn) is easier to find and equally delicious. Cajun cuisine comes from Acadian immigrants deported from Canada to Louisiana in the 18th century who brought French culinary techniques to locally available ingredients. Crawfish étouffée is a prime example of a perfect pairing of the two cultures. Serve it with white rice or cauliflower rice.
- 6 slices bacon, chopped roughly
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 red or green capsicum, finely chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- ¼ cup white rice flour
- 3 cups chicken stock
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 kg crawfish (yabbie) tails (lobster tails or prawns are good substitutes)
- ¼ cup thickened cream
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 tbsp hot sauce
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
In a large skillet, sauté the bacon on medium heat until crispy, about 6 minutes. Add the butter, onion, celery, and bell pepper and simmer until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato and shallot and sauté until the tomato softens, another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the flour and continue to sauté until the flour imparts a toasted smell, about 2 minutes. The mixture will be really dry at this point, and some of the flour may start to stick to the skillet, which is fine. Stir in the broth, salt, and pepper and simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces to the consistency of gravy, about 6 minutes.
If using crawfish tails, gently stir them in and simmer until warmed through, about 2 minutes. If using shrimp, stir them in and simmer until cooked through, gently stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. You’ll know that the shrimp are fully cooked when they are pink and opaque and start to curl.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and most of the parsley. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with white rice or cauliflower rice and extra hot sauce, scattering the remaining parsley on top right before serving.
• Given the number of ingredients in this dish, make sure to chop your vegetables and portion out your spices ahead of time.
Recipe from The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle by Russ Crandall, with photographs by Russ Crandall (Victory Belt Publishing, $34.95).