Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Twist on Crawfish Etouffée

In many Cajun dishes, a roux is made, and a liquid is added later.  In crawfish etouffee the flour is commonly added at the end.  In either case, the flour acts as a thickener.  Kenji Lopez-Alt's book The Food Lab explains how starch thickens on pg 741-743. The section of the book is a recipe for cheese and macaroni (stealing a large corporation's slogan).  Dissolving starch in a small amount of liquid disperses the starch granules, which prevents the formation of clumps when large clumps of powder hit hot liquid, gelatinizing on the exterior and protecting the interior starch from being hydrated.

Amylose is a linear polymer of glucose, with an alpha-1,4 linkage (figure to be added in a couple of days).  This long polymer is actually curved and spirals around itself.  Addition of water breaks the intermolecular interactions and the polymers are unwound.  The polymer chains get entangled, leading to a viscous liquid or gel.  In my opinion this can reduce the flavor impact of the other ingredients.  As a roux is cooked, the amylose breaks down, adding flavor but reducing the water absorbing ability of the roux.  However, if little liquid is added, then this is a moot point, and the texture will be quite different.  I did add dry flour to the melted butter.  With just vegetable oil this would have not been a problem.  Butter is about 15% water, I wonder if using clarified butter would have made a difference.

The buttery rich end result, which lets the crawfish flavor come through, is shown below, with a Pale Ale from Fairhope Brewing.  This recipe serves 4.  Just kidding, it serves two people who each had seconds.

Crawfish Etouffée
1 stick butter
1.5 tablespoon all purpose four
¾ cup diced celery
¾ cup diced green bell pepper
¾ cup diced yellow or white onion
12 ox crawfish tails
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper to taste
¼ chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter on medium heat, stir in flour.  Whisk to make sure there are no lumps.  Stir until the color of peanut butter.  The roux will roam as it cooks, and may look separated during many steps - see the comment right before recipe begins).

Turn heat to medium-low, add celery, onions, bell pepper, cook for 15 minutes.  Stir frequently.

Add crawfish tails, bay leaves, salt, cayenne  and black pepper, cooking on medium low for 12 minutes.  The roux will start to stick toward the end, scrape the bottom of the pan.

Add green onion and parsley, cook 2 minutes, then remove from heat and cover.  After 2 minutes, serve with hot cooked white rice.

1 comment:

  1. A Twist on Crawfish Etouffée, yummy dish. I just love this chow mien type dish. And it looks so yummy and delicious, I will make this real soon