Friday, March 16, 2012


Several weeks ago,  I enjoyed a great chicken etouffee dish at a cooking demonstration and tasting from Chef Jesse Jones of Chef Jesse Concepts.  Chef Jesse is a local top-rated chef and was named Ultimate Chef of Bergen County.  Read a little about his Southern Comfort style here:

After watching Chef Jesse, I was inspired to make my own version of etouffee the following day.  Since Mardi Gras was coming up the following week, and since I am a seafood lover, I wanted to make a version with seafood, or more likely shellfish.  So, I pulled out one of my cookbooks from Chef John Besh, "My New Orleans, the Cookbook,"  to use as a guide.
His recipe was for crabmeat and frog, but I substituted the frog with shrimps (not that I don't eat frog, but my local market doesn't stock the product -- need to get that at Lobster Place in NYC).  For the roux, I prefer to use arrowroot in lieu of flour.  Guess, it's not authentic New Orleans, then?? 

1/2 cup neutral oil, grape seed or canola
1/2 cup arrowroot 
1 # of shrimps (U12-U15), remove heads, and shells (save for stock)
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (from one sprig)
2 cups shellfish stock (preferably home-made -- another recipe)
1 # crabmeat, picked over
Tabasco sauce
Salt & pepper, to taste
4 cups cooked rice

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat.  Stir in the arrowroot and cook the roux, stirring frequently, until the arrowroot has cooked and turned a blond color, about 5 minutes.  This will certainly have a lighter consistency than flour.

Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme and shellfish stock.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.    Add the shrimps and cook for about 3 minutes, until shrimps are cooked through.

Finally, add the crabmeat and season with the Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.  Serve over hot rice.

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