Friday, March 29, 2013

Christine's Crawfish Etouffee

Photo by Christine Laudonio Wendell
Feisty and flavorful crawfish etouffee is one of my favorite dishes from Louisiana.

Given the depth and richness of flavors, you'd think it takes a lot of time and hard work to make a good etouffee -- yet in reality, it's a very approachable dish that's uncomplicated and fun to make.

It's also a feast for all the senses because of the bright colors and different textures of the ingredients, the percussive crunch of chopping and staccato sizzle of sauteing, the seductively enticing aromas as it cooks, and of course the layers of varied flavors in every bite.

The following zesty recipe and accompanying photo come to us from my friend Christine Laudonio Wendell, the owner of Nella Mia Cucina Artisanal Jams, Jellies & Preserves. Christine is a personal chef and cooking instructor who has appeared as a Top 100 contestant on Master Chef Season 2, and she describes herself as a "Foodie blogger, self-appointed food critic, Wife, Mom and military spouse." Her recipes and photos always make my mouth water & tummy rumble, and provide inspiration in the kitchen - visit her Nella Mia Cucina page on Facebook and you'll see what I mean.

Without further ado, here is her recipe for Crawfish Etouffee:

1 lb fresh or frozen peeled crawfish tails
3 lbs Louisiana Crawfish 10-15 Crawfish Per lb
Buy crawfish online
2 large onions, minced
1 cup minced celery
½ cup minced green bell pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons crawfish fat (or butter)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup water
½ cup tomato sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon (or more to taste) cayenne pepper
Hot cooked rice

Thaw crawfish if frozen. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions, celery, green bell pepper and garlic for 10 minutes or until tender. Add crawfish fat (or butter) and cornstarch. Stir well and cook for 1 minute. Add water, tomato sauce, crawfish and seasonings. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for a minute or two. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered 5 minutes, or until crawfish turn pink. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you want to spice up this recipe with more of a peppery or fiery kick, add a few splashes of a good Louisiana or Cajun hot sauce such as Panola Clearly Hot Sauce when you add the other seasonings during cooking, or splash it on your serving at the table.  A simple mixed-greens salad with a citrusy vinaigrette or a lighter, cool creamy dressing would be an excellent accompaniment to round out this meal.

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