You can’t get more southern than “Shrimp Etouffee with Fried Green Tomatoes.” I’m making this very traditional Creole/Cajun dish — “Shrimp Etouffee” — this week and I am serving it with “Fried Green Tomatoes” using the last of the tomatoes that I picked from my summer garden. Usually etouffee is made with crawfish when served in restaurants and found in cookbooks. However, peeled crawfish tails are priced out of my food budget this spring and summer. Shrimp makes a mighty tasty etouffee, too. And for a variation, I am making a “low-fat roux” or a “dry roux” to cut down on the butter/oil in this rich Louisiana dish.
Why Green Tomatoes?
I had high hopes for my garden tomato plants. They grew wonderfully and I harvested many of the tomatoes. However, after watching the squirrels and possums run off with many my large heirloom tomatoes — I decided not to share the rest and picked the tomatoes while they were still green. I use these green tomatoes to make either chutney or “Fried Green Tomatoes” as part of my traditional southern dish today.
What is Etouffee?
Etouffee means “smothered.” The dish is contains French/Creole elements and has been adapted by Cajun culture as an authentic Cajun dish by incorporating crawfish from the region’s swamps and bayous. Essentially, the “Cajun Trinity” of vegetables — onions, celery and bell pepper (plus garlic) — are cooked down and “smothered ” with some sort of seafood. The dish is typically thickened with a roux (browned flour and oil) to make a thick gravy-type dish. The dish may or may not contain tomatoes.
Etouffee has very similar ingredients as a gumbo. However, etouffee has the consistency of a thick stew or gravy whereas gumbo is more like a soup. And I have never eaten an etouffee containing sausage or chicken. Etoufflee is typically served over rice but it can also be served with anything else on the plate such as “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Rouse’s supermarket served crawfish etouffee over fried catfish this week on their hot food cafeteria line! Go figure. Here is my shrimp etouffee.
Healthy Modification – “Dry Roux” made in the oven
The disadvantage to many Louisiana seafood recipes, and actually much of southern Louisiana cuisine, is that it is loaded with butter and/or oil. The food tastes great but it is not that healthy for you. Etouffee is typically made with a roux which is 1:1 oil to flour. And often recipes may use one stick of butter to “smother” the vegetables (or even two sticks of butter depending on the volume of the recipe). Whoa. That’s alot of fat. I’m going to attempt to eliminate the oil in the a roux by using a different method to make the roux — making it in the oven. This is called a “Dry Roux.” The purpose of the browned flour in a roux is both to flavor and thicken the stew. Browning the flour in the oven works well — you just have to pay attention to what your are doing.
And I am using a small amount of margarine to cook the vegetable seasonings, not a stick or two of butter.
Here are the steps for making dry roux. Use a heavy skillet. I used my cast iron skillet. Wipe the skillet out well to remove any remaining residue or flavors which may be in the skillet. The temperature of the oven needs to be hot at 400 degrees. Spread a cup of dry flour (no oil) in the skillet. Let this “bake” for about 20 minutes. Then start to stir every 5 minutes and even more frequently in the last several minutes. The skillet and flour will be very hot. When the flour turns a nice copper color — cook a little longer until it turns brown — then quickly remove the skillet from oven and pour the flour from the skillet (as it will continue to cook) into a bowl. If the mixture burns, then start over. The recipe only uses 1/3 cup of “dry roux” so this makes enough for several dishes. Store the remainder of the dry roux in a labeled jar at room temperature.
To make etouffee, you need alot of seasoning ingredients. I used generous amounts of onion, bell pepper and celery — the “Cajun Trinity” — plus garlic cloves.
For the shrimp, I used frozen, headless peeled shrimp tails. I used very, very small shrimp which are about the size of crawfish tails. The disadvantage is that these shrimp are very bland compared to crawfish and larger shrimp. The tiny shrimp can become tough when cooked a long time — which is needed so the flavors in the etouffee will blend. It’s a trade-off. (My husband didn’t think my shrimp were overcooked.) These shrimp should be defrosted in the refrigerator and drained before adding to the etouffee.
Since shrimp are rather bland and I also eliminated most the butter in the dish, the shrimp etouffee needs a few other seasonings to perk it up. I used chicken broth for flavor and added a tiny amount of tomato paste. Tabasco sauce, parsley and Creole seasoning also give the dish a boost. I added sherry to one of my recipe trials, but don’t think this added much flavor — so I’m not including it in my final dish.
To make the dish, chop the vegetables finely– I used my food processor. Saute them in a small amount of margarine in a large, heavy skillet. Partially cover and let the vegetables steam on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until they are soft and the raw flavor has dissipated. Add the drained, defrosted shrimp along with Creole seasoning and cook until the shrimp begin to turn pink. Add some of the chicken broth and 1/3 cup of dry roux. The stew will quickly thicken so stir constantly. And the rest of the chicken broth, tomato paste, several drops of Tabasco sauce, parsley flakes, salt (optional) and pepper. Let this simmer on the stove for about half an hour so the flavors blend together and the liquid in the stew is reduced in volume. Stir frequently.
When ready to serve, sprinkle on green onions and serve with rice and Fried Green Tomatoes.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Etouffee is typically served with rice. It is sometimes served as a “gravy” with Fried Green Tomatoes or other entrees such as Fried Catfish. These make a delicious combinations. I featured a recipe for “Fried Green Tomatoes” in my December 5, 2017, blog post serving them with Remoulade Sauce. Yum. Use the “search” icon to locate this blog post and recipe.
To make “Fried Green Tomatoes” use only green tomatoes — not ones which have partially turned red. Slice the tomatoes, dip in milk and then in seasoned bread crumbs (just a light breading — no egg batter is necessary for my recipe.) Let the slices set for several minutes, then fry in a skillet with a shallow layer of vegetable oil (not olive oil.)
Now, we’re cooking like a Cajun! Enjoy this southern Louisiana dish.
Ingredients for Dry Roux:
- 1 cup all purpose flour
Ingredients for Shrimp Etouffee:
- 1 lb small frozen, peeled and headless shrimp (90 – 110 count)
- 1 large onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 small green bell pepper
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp margarine
- 2 tsp Creole seasoning such as Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
- 1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth
- 1/3 cup of Dry Roux
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp dry parsley flakes or 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 4 drops Tabasco sauce and additional sauce, as needed
- green onions, chopped for garnish (optional)
- 3 cups cooked long grain rice
- 1 recipe Fried Green Tomatoes (See blog post of December 5, 2017)
Method and Steps:
- Make Dry Roux: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Thoroughly wipe out 10″ cast iron skillet and clean out any residue in skillet which may flavor the roux. Spread all purpose flour evenly in the skillet. Or use any oven-proof heavy skillet. (Do not add any oil to skillet.)
- Place skillet in oven. “Bake” flour in the skillet stirring every 5 minutes with a wooden spoon or other oven-proof spoon. Use hot pad to reposition skillet as it is very hot.
- After about 20 minutes, when the flour begins to brown, check flour mixture and stir more frequently — every two or three minutes.
- When the flour turns a copper color — stir again. It will quickly turn into a nice brown color.
- At this point, remove skillet from oven and place on hot pad on counter. Quickly transfer flour into a medium-sized bowl as the flour will continue to cook and brown.
- When the flour has completely cooled to room temperature, transfer to a container with screw lid and store at room temperature.
- To make etouffee: Defrost frozen, headless peeled shrimp. Place frozen shrimp in medium-sized bowl. Add water to partially cover shrimp. Cover and place in refrigerator. Occasionally stir to rotate shrimp until all are defrosted. Drain off water and set aside. Can do this earlier in day.
- Peel onion and cut in quarters and then in eighths. Cut celery in 1″ lengths. Cut bell pepper in eighths, removing seeds and membrane. Place all in food processor and pulse several times until vegetables are finely chopped. Scrape down as needed.
- Press garlic cloves through garlic press to mash.
- Steam vegetables: Melt margarine in heavy large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped vegetables and garlic. Stir to coat. Lower the temperature to medium-low and partially cover with lid. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and translucent about 15 to 20 minutes. Lower temperature of stove if vegetables begin to stick to bottom of skillet or burn. May add a little water, if needed. (Remember, this is a low-fat etouffee.)
- Next, add defrosted and well-drained shrimp. Stir and cook over medium heat just until shrimp begin to turn pink.
- Add 1/2 cup of the can of chicken broth and stir to combine.
- Next, add 1/3 cup Dry Roux. (Save remaining roux for another use.) Stir constantly, as the roux will quickly thicken.
- Quickly add the remaining chicken broth and stir constantly, breaking up any flour clumps.
- Add tomato paste, dry parsley flakes (or freshly parsley), salt and pepper and 4 drops of Tabasco sauce. Stir to combine.
- Lower temperature of stove. Partially cover skillet or Dutch oven and simmer for 30 minutes until liquid is reduced and etouffee thickens. Stir occasionally.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add a few more Tabasco drops if a hotter etouffee is desired. (Remember, it only takes several drops of Tabasco sauce to make a dish “hot”. Alternatively, pass hot sauce at table and let individuals add hot sauce.)
- Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle on green onions.
- Serve with cooked, long grain rice and Fried Green Tomatoes
- Pass around Tabasco Hot Sauce.