Crawfish Etouffee - 5

Course : Cajun
Serves: 1
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4 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce
1 small bell pepper -- diced
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
1 medium onion -- chopped
2 cloves garlic -- minced
2 stalks celery -- diced
2 medium tomatoes -- peeled and chopped
1 cup fish stock or clam juice
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 piece bay leaf
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound crayfish -- peeled
1/2 cup chopped scallions -- including the greens

Preparation / Directions:

The word etouffee comes from the French word for "smother" and in this recipe, it refers to be smothered by a sauce. This dish, as with all traditional Cajun dishes, begins with a roux - or the browning of flour in a fat or oil for use as a thickening agent. To make the roux: Heat oil in a heavy skillet until hot. Gradually stir in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture turns brown. Be very careful you don't burn roux. Sauté the onions, garlic, celery, and Bell pepper in the roux for five minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, basil, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes or until it thickens to a sauce. Add the hot sauce, crayfish, and scallions and simmer for an additional five minutes or until the crayfish/shrimp are cooked. Remove the bay leaf and serve. Serving Suggestions: Serve with celery seed coleslaw, green beans, and corn bread. Variations: Use shrimp or lobster meat in place of the crayfish. COMMENTS: 1. For the inexperienced, making the roux can be tricky ... be certain stir the roux constantly (I mean constantly!) or it will burn (if you see dark flecks forming in the roux, its burnt and it is best to throw it out and start over). Think of it this way - until you've done it a few times, operate under the following edict: "You can't stir the roux too much" Cook roux until it turns "peanut butter brown" or darker. 2. Use only fresh tomatoes, even if they're the supermarket hothouse variety. The first few times I made this stuff it was awful; I later learned why - I had substituted canned tomatoes for fresh tomatoes. 3. Instead of the required thyme, and basil try substituting the following: one tablespoon of Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Magic. Also, amount of increase Louisiana Hot Sauce to two tablespoons; in its original form, this recipe is pretty tame! 4. Serve over cooked rice with homemade biscuits (I use Bisquick for now ... I looking for a "from scratch" equivalent if anyone has suggest

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