Cajun Crawfish Étouffée is a smothered crawfish (or shrimp) dish that starts with a buttery white sauce flavored with the Cajun trinity and a kick of cayenne. The étouffée is served over rice and enjoyed as a classic Louisiana dish.
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Crawfish Etouffee and Lenton Season
The season of Lent begins the day after Mardi Gras, called Ash Wednesday. It continues for about seven weeks before celebrating Jesus' resurrection from the grave on Easter Sunday. A day worth celebrating!
Since Cajuns are predominately Catholic, lent is faithfully observed where I grew up in Vermilion parish. Traditionally, during Lent, meat is served only once out of the three daily meals except for Wednesday and Friday. These days, it's abstained from as an act of sacrifice to draw closer to God.
My mother remembers no dances or parties during this season as a teenager growing up in south Louisiana. I remember, as a child, stressing out, trying to decide whether I was going to give up candy, gum, or cokes for forty-something days. No matter what we chose to abstain from, we were always served meatless dishes on Friday.
There are many meatless Cajun recipes prepared on lenten Fridays, like Seafood Gumbo. It's made with an extra dark roux and shrimp, crab, and oyster flavors with seafood stock. Another Cajun food fit for lent is Fish In Red Gravy where fish fillets are stewed in a rich tomato sauce and served over rice, of course!
If you want to know how to boil crawfish, here's an easy recipe for How To Boil Crawfish; click on the highlighted title, and you'll go right to that post. These are two highly favored recipes in Cajun cuisine.
Thankfully, those Louisiana Crawfish tails are in season during Lent. Mama would often make her Cajun Crawfish Etouffee recipe (pronounced ay-2-fay) on those meatless Fridays. This is her recipe below.
- Butter - salted for a flavorful, buttery taste.
- Onion - it's the first part of the Cajun holy trinity.
- Celery - is another vegetable in the trinity, adding its unique flavor.
- Green bell peppers - the sweet green peppers are part of the threesome, too.
- Garlic - Use it pressed or minced to disperse the flavor evenly throughout this classic dish.
- Cornstarch - enough to thicken the sauce for a blonde roux.
- Crawfish - peeled frozen or fresh crawfish tails.
- Salt - the seasoning of all seasonings.
- Cayenne pepper - more or less for just the right peppery taste.
- Water - add to the butter and cornstarch roux to make the sauce.
- Parsley and green onions- chopped for garnish before serving, which is optional.
See ingredient amounts and nutrition facts listed below in the recipe card.
Etouffée is a French word meaning to smother, and we are smothering some crawfish here. Mama did well with her easy crawfish etouffee recipe. It calls for a buttery white sauce or blonde roux made with the Cajun holy trinity of onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic with a kick of cayenne pepper. It's super easy to make and oh-so-tasty!
Start by melting butter in a heavy saucepan, like a Dutch oven, on medium heat.
Add vegetables and cook until onions are transparent, about 10-15 minutes without browning the vegetables.
Stir in the cornstarch and cook for 5 minutes while stirring.
Before you add the crawfish, pass your hand through them, removing any crawfish shells or black veins.
Then, stir the shellfish into the cornstarch and vegetable mixture.
Add salt and pepper or your favorite Cajun seasoning (here's a homemade Cajun seasoning). Stir well, then add a little water, about .25 cup at a time, until it is the consistency of a thick stew.
Adjust heat to a simmer covered on medium to medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add a small amount of water if the rich gravy needs thinning, then sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and stir.
Serve the etouffee over cooked white rice with a salad and crusty French bread to sop up any extra sauce.
Note: You can substitute shrimp for crawfish to make a shrimp étouffée if you like.
The first time I prepared this delicious recipe for some Arkansas friends, they said it was different but better than what they had eaten in restaurants. That was a high compliment to my Mama and her recipe.
Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Purchase shrimp and crawfish that are harvested as close to your home as possible.
Cook the Cajun holy trinity in butter and thicken the stew with cornstarch. Add the crawfish, seasonings, and water, then simmer them together. Serve over white rice.
Yes, shrimp makes an excellent etouffee.
From Creole cuisine and foods from the Cajun culture.
Here are more crawfish recipes from Cajun and Creole cooking.
More dishes to serve with and compliment this delicious etouffee.
- 1.5 sticks (.75 cup) of real salted butter
- 2 cups chopped onion
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped celery
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped bell pepper
- 2 large cloves garlic, pressed
- .33 cup cornstarch
- 2 pounds fresh or frozen crawfish or shrimp (peeled and cleaned)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- .25 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less
- parsley, chopped; optional
- Melt butter in a heavy saucepan.
- Add vegetables and cook on medium heat until onions are transparent, about 10-15 minutes.
- Do not brown the vegetables.
- Add cornstarch, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Before you add the crawfish, pass your hand through them, removing any pieces of shell or black veins.
- Stir the shellfish into the cornstarch and vegetable mixture.
- Add salt and pepper stirring well, then add a little water, about .25 cup at a time, until it is the consistency of a thick gravy.
- Adjust heat to let simmer covered on medium to medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add a small amount of water if the gravy needs thinning.
- Sprinkled with chopped parsley and stir.
- Serve over cooked rice.
- The amount of water added may vary each time you make this recipe, depending on the crawfish or shrimp. Some crawfish and shrimp have more water in them than others.
- Substitute crawfish with shrimp for a shrimp etouffee dish.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Category: Seafood
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