Etouffee is a dish used by Cajun and Creole cooks that is both easy to make and sure to bring everyone back for more. Typically made with crawfish, it can also be made with any other shellfish or white meat to achieve a very similar flavor if you do not happen to have access to “mud bugs”. Since chicken is cheap, we will use it to add more protein to our etouffee without needing to spend too much on seafood.
Preparation and cooking time is about one hour
A large sauce pan or wok
A large plastic or wooden spoon
A cutting board
A sharp knife
A large serving dish
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
One yellow onion, chopped
One green bell pepper, chopped
One cup of chopped celery
One cup of sliced mushrooms
Either 3 garlic cloves minced finely or two tablespoons of garlic powder (if you hate working with garlic)
One teaspoon of black pepper
One teaspoon of cayenne powder or chili powder
One tablespoon of Cajun seasoning (Zatarain’s or Tony Chachere’s, or your own blend if you prefer)
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
7-8 dashes of Tabaco Sauce if you’re a real Cajun, 2-3 for wanna bes
Salt to taste
One eight ounce can of clam juice
One small can of Ro*tel brand tomatoes with green chilies (not the mild variety…unless you can’t take the heat)
About 15-20 medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
One chicken breast, skinless
Chop all of your vegetables into approximately 1/4″ squares. Set them aside.
Warm your pan or wok to low heat. Add the oil and flour, and whisk continuously for 20-30 minutes. You are making a roux here, and the roux is the most important part of this dish, as well as most Cajun and Creole cooking. A roux not cooked long enough will not have enough flavor, but a burnt roux will make the dish unpalatable. You can tell when it is done when it turns a caramel color and it has a strong nutty scent. Everyone around you should be able to smell that you have been cooking, and they should get the craving for pecan pie when you walk in the door.
Pour in all of your vegetables and mushrooms when your roux is finished. Stir slowly until the vegetables have gone limp. It should take about five or six minutes. Add the garlic or garlic powder at this point.
Pour in the Ro*tel tomatoes and clam juice after the vegetables are nice and tender. Add all of the spices at this point. Bring the mix to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let it cook for about 15 minutes, checking the flavor a few minutes before it is done. Add more seasoning as necessary. Slice your chicken into bite-sized chunks while it simmers.
Now throw in your chicken, let it cook for about two minutes before adding the shrimp. Cook for three more minutes and then take the pot off the heat. Burnt shrimp just is not fun. Pour the etouffee into your serving dish. Serve over rice with warm French bread or garlic toast. The powerful flavors and hearty consistency will have everyone at the table wanting seconds, “I guar-awn-tee!”