Friday, March 23, 2012

"First you make a roux": How to Make the Best Roux for Crawfish Etouffee

The classic start to the best Cajun dishes. 
There may not be a more debatable topic in Creole coking than the infamous roux. Each Southern chef has a different opinion on which is the best technique, color, and flavor. There are a myriad of roux varieties ranging from a "white roux" to the "brick" version and everything in between, blonde, brown, peanut butter or chocolate. Each imparts a different hue, thickening power, and distinctive nutty flavor to your dish. Making a roux is easy, burning it is easier, and mastering it is an art form.

The roux calls for 2 simple ingredients: flour and any type of fat. The choice in fat is yours, but the traditional French recipe calls for butter.  Southerners use bacon grease, lard, clarified butter, any meat fat or oil for their roux. The French use an equal ratio of fat to flour. For my roux I use a blend of fats at the ratio of 2:1 (butter/bacon grease to flour) and prefer the peanut butter hue, but again the choice is always yours. The best part of making a roux is that you can experiment and create a secret recipe which makes all your dishes unique to you.

Crawfish Etouffee 
The key to a perfect roux is to stir, stir, stir! I can not emphasize this enough, cast iron (the only place to make a roux in my opinion) holds heat so keep your pan on low and stir the hell out of the thing with a flat wooden spoon (Southerners often have a flat wooden spoon especially for roux). If you start to see any black specs, your roux is burning and at that point there is no way to save it. Toss it, wipe out your skillet, and start again. It may take you a few tries but you'll get it. Once you perfect your own unique roux, you can officially call yourself a Southern chef. Well...maybe.

Ryan stirring the pot. 
The following dish is brought to you by the official Pastorek crawfish boil. I'm lucky enough to have crawfish flown out to Los Angeles a few times each season, but if you don't have access to live, fresh Louisiana crawfish, you can easily substitute boiled shrimp.  Don't you dare use foreign imported crawfish, that's a sacrilege. Laissez les bon temps ROUX-le ya'll!

MiddleBar Crawfish Etouffee
1 lb boiled crawfish (Thanks Ryan)
1 red bell pepper (green is traditional but I hate green bell pepper)
1 small yellow onion diced
2 ribs celery diced
1 can rotel diced tomatoes
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 sprigs of thyme whole on stem
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tbs tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp bacon fat
1 tsp worcestershire
2 cans chicken stock (fresh stock if you have it)
1/2 cup water
Tony Casherie's Original Creole Seasoning, salt, pepper (about 1 tsp-1tbs depending on the saltiness of your crawfish so add seasoning as necessary)
1 large cast iron skillet

First you make a roux by melting the bacon fat, butter adding the flour and stirring until the roux takes on a nice peanut butter color. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper, salt, pepper and Tony's and saute in the roux until soft. Add garlic, rotel, worcestershire, chicken stock, water, bay leaf, and thyme and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover for 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid, add crawfish, and simmer for 10-20 minutes more. Remove bay leaves and thyme. Serve over heaping white rice and garnish with fresh parsley.


  1. The recipe i was looking for but too late already made my somewhat of a crawfish etoufee re ipe lol

  2. The recipe i was looking for but too late already made my somewhat of a crawfish etoufee re ipe lol