A Spicier Christmas – Crappie Étouffée
Étouffée is a dish found in both Cajun and Creole cuisine typically served with shellfish over rice. In French, the word étouffée literally means “smothered,” which is a good way to describe our Christmas recipe. Although other forms of seafood may be used, a true étouffée should be made with crawfish. While gumbo is made with a dark roux, étouffée is made from a lighter, thicker and spicier roux.
There are many variations of étouffée. It can be made with any shellfish such as crab or shrimp; or even fish. Now think crappie for Christmas.
Depending on who is making it and where it is being made it is flavored with either Creole or Cajun seasonings. It is important to note that although Creole and Cajun cuisines are distinct there are many similarities. The Creole version is made with a blonde or brown roux and sometime tomatoes are added.
Roux (pronounced ru) is a substance created by cooking wheat flour and fat (traditionally butter). It is the thickening agent of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: béchamel sauce, velouté sauce, and espagnole sauce.
In Cajun cuisine, roux is made with bacon fat or oil instead of butter, which tends to burn if not watched carefully. Oil lends much richness of flavor and dark brown color, however it has less thickening power. Use butter but watch it.
Creole, a blond roux, is cooked, stirring constantly, for approximately 20 minutes to remove the raw flavor of the flour and to add a slightly nutty flavor, while a brown roux is cooked longer (30 to 35 minutes) to deepen the color and flavor.
Of the many recipe variations, I’ve selected one that is fairly simple and will make a splendid Christmas dish and some sides to round out your festive meal, Creole-style.
2 pounds crappie fillets
1 cup butter
2 cup onion, chopped
2 cup celery, chopped
1 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
Salt to taste
Red pepper to taste
Black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Dash of paprika for flavor and color
1 cup green onion tops, chopped
Dash of soy sauce
Rice (follow directions for six to eight servings)
Sauce: Melt butter in skillet at medium heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper; simmer until tender. Add flour, salt, red pepper, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Stir until blended. Add green onion tops and soy sauce and then stir until onion tops are slightly softened. Lay fillets in pan. Cover with sauce. Simmer until fish flakes, about 10 minutes. Serve over fluffy cooked rice.
2 to 4 tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/8 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar cheese
Heat pie crust to 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Slice tomatoes thickly to cover bottom of piecrust and sprinkle with Dash seasoning. Sprinkle basil and chives over tomatoes. Mix mayonnaise with cheddar cheese spread over the top to seal tomatoes. Put in oven for 30 to 35 minutes at 400 degrees.
Christmas Morning Jambalaya Grits
2 tablespoons bacon grease
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup quick grits crumbled
1 cup peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup ground ham
In a heavy skillet, heat bacon grease and gradually add flour, stirring constantly until roux becomes light brown. Add onion, green pepper, and celery and cook 5 minutes. Cook grits according to package directions and add to roux. Add tomatoes and ham. Sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately.
Southern Beans and Rice (to go with leftover ham)
1 1/4 pounds dried pinto beans
7 cups water
1 small ham hock
1 chopped medium onion
2 minced cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 thickly sliced pound ring smoked beef and pork sausage
10-ounce undrained can tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 cup uncooked regular rice
Sort and wash beans. Combine beans, water, ham hock, onion, garlic, and salt in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 45 minutes. Add sausage, tomatoes with green chilies, and rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hock, shred ham from bone with a fork, and return ham to bean mixture.
This is a divine dessert when served warm with whipped cream; the taste is very much like a pineapple upside down cake.
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter (1/2-pound)
3 eggs beaten
16-ounce can crushed pineapple
4 cups white bread crumbs
Cream sugar and butter together. Add eggs and mix well. Add pineapple to mixture. Add bread crumbs and stir well. Bake in a Pyrex dish for 1 hour 15 minutes at 350 degrees.