Several years ago in New Orleans I got a lesson in étouffée-making from the doyenne of Louisiana cooking, Poppy Tooker. It’s a day I will never forget. Étouffée is a riff on the old French verb “to smother,” and while there are as many recipes for étouffée as there are cooks who make it, this one is so easy that it’s become an instant classic in my house. The real magic of this dish is the homemade shellfish stock, so don’t skip that step.
Watch Andrew make this recipe:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Reserved shells from 2 pounds large shrimp (see below)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground celery seed
- 3 tablespoons thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup tomato paste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 6 large scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Crystal hot sauce, plus more for serving
- 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- Steamed rice and lemon wedges, for serving
Make the Shrimp Stock
In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp shells and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until pink and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, for 30 minutes longer. Strain the stock into a heatproof bowl through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve for the étouffée.
Prepare the Étouffée
Melt the butter over moderately high heat until foaming. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ground celery seed and thyme.
Next, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and slightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the celery and cook for about 2 minutes, until slightly softened.
Add the stock in batches, stirring well after each addition. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add 3/4 of the scallions, the hot sauce, shrimp and lemon juice. Simmer until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Stir in 1 tablespoon of parsley.
Serve over steamed rice, garnishing with remaining scallions and parsley. Pass extra lemon wedges and hot sauce at the table.