Creole Étouffée

A bit out of my comfort zone here.Neither Cajun or Creole cuisines are in my repertoire.New Orleans charm stems from many sources, but most importantly, its cultural diversity. Since its beginnings, the city has embraced the heritage of others, from the French, Spanish, English and Irish, to the African, Latin American and Carribean people. Creole cuisine is an incredible melting pot of these cuisines. A gumbo of fun.The result is a depth of culture that marks everyday life. It´s what makes the food, music and character of New Orleans so distinctive..Think oysters Bienville and shrimp Creole, Bananas Foster and soft-shell crab po-boys, the Neville brothers, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Junior, Bourbon Street, Tipitina´s and of course last but not least Mardi Gras.
This came to me by way of one of the most informative and entertaining food oriented TV shows of recent years."Somebody Feed Phil" @philrosenthal .More recently I saw one of the contestants prepare it on Masterchef as part of the new Food truck challenge and it was then that I knew I had to make it.In the episode where he goes to New Orleans Phil visits a culinary legend, 94 year old Leah Chase.Her husband was Dooky Chase of the famous restaurant Dooky Chase´s, more often known just as "The Restaurant" because it was the place to meet, the place where civil rights leaders would meet. She mentioned Martin Luther King and was taken aghast when Barack Obama asked her for hot sauce to put on his gumbo.She talks about  the traditional Crawfish Etoufée, a delicate combination of crawfish tails, onions, green peppers and celery and spices in a flavoursome sauce, served with steamed rice.She serves it on her menu. Shrimp Étouffée is a Classic Lousiana Seafood Stew made with tender seasoned shrimp, smothered in a sauce that’s packed with the Cajun flavours of New Orleans.If you look up Etouffee in the dictionary, you’ll find the literal translation to be "smothered". Etouffee uses a technique known as smothering, which is a popular method of cooking in the Cajun areas of southwest Louisiana and the coastal counties of Mississippi.If you want to get technical Étouffée is a type of stew.It’s made with a roux, onion, celery, and bell pepper (the holy trinity), tomato, garlic, hot sauce, and either shrimp, crawfish, or chicken. 

Shrimp shells
½ lemon sliced
scraps from cutting onion and celery
2 cups chicken broth

Etouffée Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup onionsmall dice
½ cup celery small dice
½ cup bell pepper small dice
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
14 ounce can diced tomato
1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning your favourite blend and adjust to your tastes
Chile sauce to taste optional

14 jumbo shrimp 16-20 count shrimp, tail off shelled and deveined (about ¾ of a pound )
½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
½ teaspoon Italian parsley finely chopped

Add the shrimp shells and scraps of onion and celery to a small saucepot with a little olive oil to saute and cook for a few minutes
then add the sliced lemon and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer for 20 minutes. Add more water if necessary to keep the stock close to 1 ½ cups
Strain the solids from the broth and set aside.

Etouffée Sauce
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, cook until it starts to brown sprinkle in the flour while mixing and reduce the heat to simmer. Continue to simmer until the roux turns dark brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the onion, celery, and peppers to the roux and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a minute.
Whisk in the broth
Add the tomatoes and seasoning, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Season with hot sauce and sea salt to taste.

Dry the peeled shrimp with paper towels
Mix some of your seasoning (or paprika if you don't want heat) and chopped parsley with your towel-dried shrimp. Toss the shrimp with the seasoning.
Heat another saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the pan and add the seasoned shrimp
Saute the shrimp quickly and cook until just done so they stay moist and tender. You want to get color into the shrimp so it's okay if they seasoning burns a little.

2 cups cooked rice
sea salt to taste
¼ cup green onions sliced for garnish
tablespoon Italian parsley chopped for garnish
Place white rice in centre of bowl, add Etouffee Sauce around rice, place cooked shrimp on top
Garnish with parsley and green onions


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