Yield: 1 Servings
|3 pounds||Crawfish tails; peeled|
|4 cups||Crawfish stock|
|½ cup||Crawfish fat; from the head s|
|2 \N||Sticks butter; real butter only (8 oz.)|
|2 cups||Onions; finely chopped|
|¼ cup||Celery; finely chopped|
|¼ cup||Bell pepper; finely chopped|
|1 tablespoon||Garlic; minced|
|2 tablespoons||Green onions; finely choppe d|
|2 teaspoons||Tomato paste|
|2 tablespoons||Cornstarch; in water|
|1 teaspoon||Cayenne pepper|
|½ teaspoon||White pepper|
|¼ teaspoon||Black pepper|
|\N \N||Dash thyme|
|\N \N||Dash basil|
|\N \N||Dash worcestershire sauce|
|1 tablespoon||Parsley; finely chopped|
You start off by boiling about 15 to 20 pounds of crawfish in lightly salted water. Since you are going to use the water as a cooking stock, you want to make certain that the crawfish are washed thoroughly before you put them in the pot. Use only enough water to barely cover the critters. Your boiling time should be about 4 minutes (timed from the point when the water begins to boil rapidly).
When they are cooked, immediately remove the crawfish from the water with a strainer ladle and set them aside to cool. Then, using several thicknesses of cheesecloth, strain out 6 cups of stock (you want to have extra stock just in case you need it) and set it aside. Peel the meat out of the crawfish tails, scoop the fat out of the heads, and devein the tails. Then divide the tails into two equal portions.
Leave one portion whole, and grind up the other portion until the meat is finely ground.
In your heavy 12-inch stainless steel or aluminum (_not_ black iron) skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and begin sauteeing the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and green onions, cooking until they wilt. This should take about 7 minutes, and you should stir constantly. When the vegetables are ready, stir in the tomato paste and cook it about 2 or 3 minutes. Then pour in 4 cups of the crawfish stock, stirring it well into the vegetable mixture. Also stir in the crawfish fat. When it is mixed well, cover the pot and let the liquid simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. After the simmering process, remove the cover and gradually stir in the liquid cornstarch (dry starch dissolved in just enough water to make it fluid). Then cover the pot again and let the sauce simmer over low heat for another 5 minutes. Remember! You still have 2 cups of stock, and you can use it later to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
Next, add the ground crawfish tails, stir them into the gravy, and mix in the paprika, salt, cayenne, white pepper, black pepper, thyme, basil and Worcestershire sauce. Blend everything together really well, and taste the dish _for each ingredient_. If anything needs adjusting (more salt, more pepper, etc.), do it now. Then cover the pot, bring the mixture to a _near boil_, and immediately take the pot off the fire. Leaving it covered, let the etouffee cool down to room temperature so that the flavors will be distributed evenly.
After making this dish over and over again, I've found that this one step is probably the secret trickery that makes my etouffee succulent. Add more stock if desired.
Finally, after the mixture is cool -- and when you're ready to eat ~- reheat it to serving temperature, put in the whole crawfish tails, stir in the parsley, cover the skillet, and simmer for 3 minutes. Then spoon the etouffee over steamed, buttered rice... and pretend your folks came from Nova Scotia! Hint: Because of the flavoring process, this etouffee will increase in richness the longer it sits. For some reason, it seems to taste better the next day. And it will freeze well. Also note that the sauce should have the consistency of heavy cream -- not thick, but not watery either! Recipe from "The Frank Davis Seafood Notebook" by Frank Davis.