I was contacted by author Paul Knipple who wanted to share with me a copy of the cookbook he wrote with his wife Angela called, The World In A Skillet: A Food Lover’s Tour Of The New American South.
I jumped at the opportunity, as anything having to do with a cast iron skillet, as seen on the book’s cover shot, or Southern cooking is of interest to me.
This Memphis based husband and wife team took on the South, and for three years investigated and uncovered stories and recipes from first-generation immigrants, which now open the readers’ eyes and palate’s to the South’s ever-changing cuisine via their book.
Like the cast-iron skillet, the recipes have become seasoned with time, and are passed down through generations, recalling connections to loved-ones and creating memorable meals.
After many of the recipes, the authors share sections called “Kitchen Passports” and “Culinary Tour Guide”, to help the reader understand the cultural significance of the ingredients and cuisine, as well as give help in adapting the recipes.
Though I have eaten at several of the restaurants highlighted in the book, its collection of stories has inspired me to make it my mission to try them all.
Having lived in New Orleans, Houma, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a part of my time on earth, I have become quite a fan of mudbugs, also known as crayfish or crawfish.
I chose to make the Crawfish Etouffee, as the recipe shown in the book by Jim “Jimmy” Romero was a little different than my own.
Romero, a bakery owner known for his pies, Jim’s Kountry Pies, in Coteau, Louisiana near Lafayette, makes his creation sans tomatoes, and adds the roux after the “holy trinity” of onions, bell pepper and celery. Jim says, “If you go to New Orleans everything is red. Down here, the tomatoes are left out. We like our fresh tomatoes straight over adding them to dishes.”
Though I still have a great tried and true John Folse recipe that I go by, Jim’s recipe was also delicious. He says, “The only thing missing is the color. “ The flavors did shine through and the rich velvety stew beautifully smothered the crawfish, which lay like a blanket over its bed of buttered white rice.
Note: I have been using this recipe since 2012 and it is a favorite. I now am gluten free and do use rice flour for my roux.
Jim Romero’s Crawfish Etouffee:
2 pounds of Louisiana Crawfish Tails, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and minced
2 ribs celery, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 cups crawfish stock or *low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
Cooked White Rice (Carolina Gold)
Fresh Parsley, chopped
If you are using fresh crawfish, separate the heads from the bodies and remove the meat from the tail and reserve. Make a crawfish stock by boiling the heads, claws, and shells from the tails in 5 cups of water for 20 minutes or longer.
Strain the liquid and reserve.
Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large, heavy pot (I use cast- iron) over medium heat.
Add the onion, bell pepper and celery to the oil and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
Add the garlic to the pot. Stir in the flour until smooth. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly for 20 minutes, or until the roux is light brown, the color of peanut butter.
Gradually stir in the reserved crawfish stock or chicken broth 1/4 cup at a time, making sure the first 1/4 cup is thoroughly combined before pouring the next 1/4 cup. Adding all of the liquid at once will cause the roux to form lumps, and it will not thicken properly.
Stir in the salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the green onion and crawfish tails, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
To serve, ladle a generous portion of the etouffee around 1 cup cooked white rice. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
For the how-to on roux’s click here.
I only use Louisiana crawfish tails which I purchase locally from my seafood markets, and for this recipe I did use chicken stock. I always put the tails in last as they will become rubbery if cooked too long, and I did not use parsley in the photo, only because I forgot to buy it.