Inspired by my earlier road trip this summer, I have been incorporating some new dishes into my cooking repertoire. By far the most challenging aspect is working in such a trimmed down kitchen. Our apartment has 12″ of counter space, very limited spices, no measuring spoons, and only a wooden spoon for cooking utensils. But I remain determined to make good food this summer, even in the heat of a New York summer.

I was first introduced to étouffée when I passed through New Orleans in June. After a nine hour drive to get there from Austin, a warm plate of richly flavored crawdads served over rice really hit the spot. I did some recipe searching and found a good starter recipe.

Étouffée is often made with shellfish, although some make it with chicken. I didn’t want to search New York for crawdads, so I chose a shrimp recipe instead. Here is how I modified it to serve four:

  • 4 T. butter
  • one white onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • two cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp. flour plus more
  • 2 T. Old Bay seasoning, more to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 lb. thawed and cooked small shrimp
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter and gently simmer the onion, celery and garlic for 45 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour until combined, which makes a simple rue. Add seasoning.
  3. Add water and wine and stir until well combined. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until it becomes a thick gravy.
  4. Stir in cooked shrimp and simmer until just warm. Serve over white rice.

The people of Louisiana apparently get into heated debates at times over what makes an authentic étouffée. Some say it has to be butter while others insist on oil. Some say you need to brown the rue, but in the case of this recipe you do not let it brown. Cajun cooks refer to the combination of celery, onion and green peppers as the holy trinity. If I were to make this again, I would try to incorporate green pepper into the recipe.

I was in the other room working while this was simmering on the stove. I would check it periodically to make sure the heat wasn’t too high, but it didn’t need constant stirring. I was actually quite surprised by the depth of flavor you get by that 45 minutes of simmering celery, onion and garlic. Don’t rush that part!

This will become a regular in our recipe box and I hope it turns out well for you as well. If anything, it is a starting point that you can tweak to fit your taste.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson