I remember the first time I made a roux with great clarity. I admit that I knew very little about cooking at the time and simply followed the Joy of Cooking’s recipe for gumbo in my dismally appointed college kitchen. But what I lacked in knowledge I think I made up for in determination. I knew that making a roux happened to be serious business that required a mindful eye. So, I stood and stirred and stirred. I knew better than to leave my roux even when my cousin Sally came home in tears over a classic college romantic meltdown. She stood in the doorway sobbing as I stood over my roux, stirring. I felt for her. I really did, but there was no I was leaving that roux. Finally, I implored, “I want to give you a hug, but you have to come over here. I can’t quit stirring this roux!”
Thankfully, Sally understood and does not hold any grudges over my allegiance to that roux. And as I remember that first batch of gumbo came out relatively well. Now I could do better and even walk away for a moment as I have a greater understanding of the elusive roux. Really there is nothing to fear!
Come see for yourself next Tuesday as I demo Shrimp Etouffe at Charleston Cooks! This will actually be a hands-on class so you might just be making that roux yourself!
When: Tuesday, January 17, 6:30-8:30
Where: Charleston Cooks! 194 East Bay Street
P.S. We will also make pimento cheese, buttermilk dressing, cornbread, and butterscotch pudding!
And here’s our recipe for Crawfish Etouffee from Glass Onion Classics — YUM!
Most would refer to this as a classic Cajun dish — meaning that its roots lie in the countryside southwest of New Orleans. Etouffer means “to smother” in French, which seems like a good connotation for this light stew. We keep ours pretty traditional — starting with a roux, going in with your trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper), and finishing with the crawfish. You wind up with a heartwarming meal in very little time.
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1/2 cup chopped celery (about 1 1/2 medium stalks)
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1/2 large bell pepper)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 medium garlic cloves)
1 quart chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
About 20 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
1 pound crawfish tails, cooked
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Steamed white rice, for serving
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and melt. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook, stirring constantly, until your roux has become a caramel color, about 10 minutes. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper; stir to combine. Add salt, oregano, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add stock and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Add crawfish, green onions, remaining tablespoon of butter, and hot sauce; stir to combine. Cook until crawfish are hot to touch, about 3 minutes.
Discard thyme bundle before serving.
Serve over steamed white rice with hot sauce for garnish.
Yield: 4 servings
P.S. You can easily order frozen crawfish tails online if they are not available in your area. We order ours from www.lacrawfish.com — and they are superb. You can also substitute a pound of shrimp — adding them with your green onions, butter, and hot sauce and cooking them until they are just pink and firm, about 5 minutes.