Shrimp Etouffee

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Shrimp Etouffee Recipe by Mr. Make It Happen

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Introduction:

When it comes to Southern comfort food, few dishes evoke the rich flavors and hearty warmth quite like shrimp etouffee. Originating from the vibrant culinary landscape of Louisiana, this dish is a celebration of Cajun and Creole influences, blending together a symphony of flavors that dance on the palate. In this blog post, we’ll take a tantalizing journey into the heart of shrimp etouffee, exploring its origins, ingredients, and the art of crafting this beloved Southern classic.

Origins and Cultural Heritage

Shrimp etouffee traces its roots back to Louisiana, where the melding of French, Spanish, African, and Native American culinary traditions gave rise to the unique Creole and Cajun cuisines. The word “etouffee” itself derives from the French verb “étouffer,” meaning to smother or suffocate, a fitting description for the dish’s method of cooking shrimp or other seafood in a rich, flavorful sauce.

Originally a humble dish made by Cajun and Creole families using locally available ingredients, shrimp etouffee has since become a staple of Louisiana cuisine and a beloved comfort food across the United States.

Ingredients: The Essence of Flavor

At the heart of shrimp etouffee lies a medley of ingredients that come together to create its signature taste:

  1. Shrimp: Fresh, plump shrimp are the star of this dish, providing a succulent seafood flavor and tender texture.
  2. Holy Trinity: A cornerstone of Cajun and Creole cooking, the holy trinity consists of onions, bell peppers, and celery, finely chopped and sautéed to form the aromatic base of the dish.
  3. Roux: A mixture of flour and fat (traditionally butter or oil) cooked to varying degrees of color, roux serves as the thickening agent for the etouffee sauce, imparting a deep, nutty flavor.
  4. Seasonings: Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, and a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper add layers of complexity and a hint of heat to the dish.
  5. Broth or Stock: Chicken or seafood broth provides the liquid base for the sauce, infusing it with depth of flavor.
  6. Tomatoes: Often included in Creole-style etouffee, tomatoes contribute acidity and sweetness to balance the richness of the dish.
  7. Garnishes: Fresh parsley and green onions add a pop of color and freshness to the finished dish.

Prep your veggies and set aside to add to the roux later.

I like to add Andouille sausage to my étouffée. It packs a huge flavor punch and pairs so nicely with everything else. 

What truly sets andouille sausage apart is its bold and robust flavor profile. The combination of spices, coupled with the smoking process, creates a complex symphony of tastes that are both savory and aromatic. The garlic and black pepper lend a pungent kick, while the smokiness adds depth and character to the sausage.

Once the sausage is cooked, remove it with a slotted spoon and then cook the shrimp right in the sausage fat the way the good lord intended.


Making the Roux

Once the protein is cooked, it’s time to start the roux. Making a roux is a fundamental culinary technique used to thicken sauces, soups, and gravies. While seemingly simple, mastering the art of roux-making requires patience, attention to detail, and a bit of finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making a roux:

Ingredients:

  1. Fat: Traditionally, roux is made with butter, but other fats like oil, lard, or even bacon grease can be used.
  2. Flour: All-purpose flour is the most commonly used flour for making roux, but other types of flour, such as rice flour or cornstarch, can also be used for gluten-free options.

Instructions:

  1. Heat the Fat: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet, heat the fat over medium-low to medium heat until it melts completely and begins to shimmer. It’s essential to use a heavy-bottomed pan to ensure even heat distribution and prevent scorching.
  2. Add the Flour: Once the fat is hot, gradually add the flour to the pan, stirring continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon to combine it with the fat. The ratio of fat to flour typically ranges from equal parts (1:1) to varying degrees depending on the desired thickness of the final sauce. For example, for a thin sauce, you might use less fat and flour, while for a thicker sauce or gravy, you’d use more.
  3. Cook the Roux: Continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it reaches the desired level of color. Roux can be classified into three main categories based on its color:
    • White Roux: Cooked for a short time (1-2 minutes) until the raw flour taste dissipates, but without allowing it to take on any color. This type of roux is commonly used in sauces like béchamel and velouté.
    • Blond Roux: Cooked for a slightly longer period (2-4 minutes) until it takes on a light golden hue. Blond roux has a nutty aroma and is used in sauces like gravy and cream sauces.
    • Brown Roux: Cooked for a longer duration (5-15 minutes or more) until it reaches a deep, rich brown color. Brown roux has a more pronounced flavor and is commonly used in dishes like gumbo, étouffée, and sauce espagnole.
  4. Use Immediately or Store: Once the roux has reached the desired color, it can be used immediately to thicken sauces, soups, or gravies, or it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later use. Be sure to let it cool completely before transferring it to storage to prevent condensation.

Tips and Considerations:

  • Stir Constantly: Stirring the roux continuously helps distribute the heat evenly and prevents the flour from clumping or burning.
  • Adjust Heat: If the roux is cooking too quickly or starting to brown too much, reduce the heat to low or remove the pan from the heat temporarily to prevent scorching.
  • Be Patient: Achieving the desired color and flavor of the roux takes time, so be patient and allow it to develop gradually over low to medium heat.

Once the roux reaches your desired color, it’s time to add the veggies and then the broth and tomatoes. Simmer and season to taste (15 minutes)

Once you have the flavor right where you want it, add the protein and simmer for another 5 minutes. Plate with white rice and enjoy


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About Matt Price

I’m Matt Price – A self taught “Home Chef”, or “Internet Chef”, lol, from Virginia. I’m super passionate about cooking and sharing recipes and techniques to elevate home cooking. Too many of us have drifted away from the kitchen – and my goal is to change that! Let’s Make It Happen.

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2 Comments

  1. William Harris says:

    We have tried so many of your dishes. Thank you for making cooking fun. It’s great to watch someone cook who takes the time and verbiage we all can understand Your version of peach cobbler is a must What doe it take to get your products in the store?. We now and borsin to our shopping cart and we prep early. Thank you

  2. Sharon Hall says:

    I love you and AB recipe. I have all the cook books. I Love that you 2 guys share your recipes & your videos. My husband was from LA (R.I.P. 2023) and people LOVED his cooking. He and my Mom showed me how to cook. My best seller is my 8 creamy Mac & Cheese. He Cook the Creole side Baked Pound cakes, Grillin & I cook the Soul side & Pies.
    Thanks again to You and AB for sharing/teaching me more techniques.
    Love you Guys/Chefs.