Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day Dinner / Revisiting Some More Southern Favorites*...

Crawfish Étouffée



Now you've done it, readers - all the discussion of regional foodstuffs this weekend has got my Southern food cravings working overtime. Luckily, I had Father's Day as an excuse to spend some quality time in the kitchen...

I present to you Crawfish Étouffée!

Now étouffée is a Louisana specialty, and not one that I grew up eating in my native Tennessee - which is a shame, because my friends and I used to spend lots of afternoons in the creek catching what we then called "crawdads" when I was a kid. Had you suggested to me then that I would ever actually eat one of those "mudbugs" we were catching, I think I would have been appalled. (In fact, I vaguely remember being really disgusted when the Paul Prudhomme-inspired Cajun Food craze of the 80's first began to spread. I also remember thinking that some people would eat anything.... little did I know!)

And now, some history....

The name étouffée comes from the French word étouffer, which means "to smother" - that's because this entree is smothered in delicious flavor! Étouffée can be made with crawfish or shrimp (I find both equally delicious) and is traditionally begun with a medium-colored, butter-based roux to which vegetables (the "holy trinity" of Cajun cuisine: onion, bell pepper, garlic) and the crawfish-or-shrimp are added.
Some people add tomatoes or tomato paste - however, most purists would agree at that point what you have is not a true étouffée, but just a stew (albeit a tasty one). I understand that the tomato/no tomato debate is a raging one that can pit brother against brother....
Étouffée is typically served over rice, so as to sop up every bit of the delicious sauce.

I love étouffée, but I'll admit that I don't make it at home on a regular basis - mainly because it is time-consuming. There's a whole lot of chopping to do, and for this dish, I prefer the texture of hand diced vegetables. Sometimes I'll take a shortcut and chop all the veggies in the Cuisinart, but I never end up liking the texture of the dish as well.
In addition to the hand chopping, there is the roux-making. Again, not difficult, but time consuming - for the color that I like for this recipe, I stand and whisk the flour/butter mixture pretty much continuously for 20-25 minutes. (I have a gas range, so I feel that's pretty quick, I suspect that it would be closer to 30-40 minutes on an electric...) I know, I know, it's time consuming, but the end result really it worth it....

For our Father's Day dinner, I served this with plain steamed white rice, and some corn bread sticks (to which I added Parmesan cheese and some black pepper, simply because I like those two flavors.)
In the background, you can kind of see my glass...I'm drinking something that I know is weird, but I just love it. I'm not sure if this drink has a name,** so I don't call it anything. Bubba refers to it as "that nasty drink."
It's a combination of beer and lemonade. I know that it sounds gross, but it is a great summer drink - it's nice and light. I take about 4 ounces of lemonade and pour it in a tall glass, then add beer to fill the glass up. Don't use good beer for this - cheap, watery American beer is perfect. And you're not allowed to knock it until you've tried it....

For dessert, I made the peanut-butter brownie cupcakes as mentioned on VeryGoodThings. This kind of recipe is not really my usual - I have no problem with mixes, etc. as a starting point, but this recipe was nothing but boxed mix. Then I thought "don't be a food snob, Bubba and Schecky will love them." And they did...


*Hey Autum, do you remember months ago telling me that I should write about food???? :)

**Maybe Manda can help me out with this? I first had this drink in a tapas bar in Barcelona, but it was a pair of British girls sitting at the counter who told me what to order - they called it a "Lager with Lemon." Since then, I have been told that it may be called a Shandy????)

6 comments:

autum said...

Yes, I remember and I think you should make it a reguar thing. Recipe Monday or something. I've never had crawfish and until this morning had never heard of etouffee (where the heck is that accent key? mine` is backwards`) You make it sound delicious. Beer and lemonade? I'll have to try that one.

capello said...

I've been hearing a lot about the beer and lemonade mixture lately. Kismit.

And why, why, why do you southerners but your rice ON TOP of your food? Y'all nearly drive me crazy with that.

manda said...

Yup, it's called Shandy and over here it's a completely normal drink to have. Jim and I often just have a couple of pints of shandy rather than beer when we go to the pub. Isn't it strange - I was really shocked when i read that in your post, it's such an every day drink here that I can't imagine anyone not having heard of it!
(loving all this talk of food!)

RC said...

yummy that looks really good.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

Alicat said...

hey there!

I'm glad that the brownie cupcakes hit the spot -- they are def. not high gourmet food by any means, but possibly a fun food to make with the kiddos and for something in a pinch. :o) Thank you for stopping by Very Good Things! Your family is gorgeous. Oh -- and my favorite food is crawfish, I am def. adding this to my recipe list. :)

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