I first had this dish last year when we had a soup and chili cookout at work, and while I’m not sure this dish would fall in either category (it is a category all its own), someone brought it in with spices bought in New Orleans and damn, it was delicious. I love shrimp and enjoy trying to find new ways in which to use it. A pescetarian by nature, shrimp could be my main source of protein. Why I had never come across this dish boggled my mind and made me question my self-appointed “foodie” status; I think as a whole this project will do that to me, to be honest.  So when this recipe came up in one of my many cookbooks I screamed an elastic “YES!” to no-one in particular and jotted it down for the grocery store trip.

The way I planned out my meals was to make heavier, heartier, wintery dishes now and work my way into spring and summer and circling back to fall by next October when this year-long project ends. I’m finding that most dishes that I enjoy making are fit for the colder months, which makes sense since I enjoy being in the kitchen more at this time of year anyway.

Gathering the ingredients together for this dish, I started to wander about the origin. Where did this come from? How long has it been around? Seeing as I can’t get a thing done with a hot topic on my mind, I can now tell you some fun facts you can use at your next dinner party found here.

This recipe is from approximately 1930. It’s said that the centuries-old technique of smothering was christened ‘etouffee’ around that time. While Southern Louisiana recipes dating back to the 1790s call for a specific seafood to be cooked in wine, butter and onions, it’s believed that the Hebert sisters coined the term ‘etouffee’ when a guest in their boarding house in Breaux Bridge wandered into the kitchen to ask what was cooking. One of the sisters replied, ‘smothered crawfish,’ but since the guest was French, her Acadian dialect pronounced ‘etouffee,’ and thus the term was born.” 

How most things are discovered anyway; by accident! I was going to save this dish for Mardi Gras but I figured I was going to ‘trial’ it now and whip it up like a pro should the occasion arise.

It was super simple to put together which I was thankful for and it tasted like a dream. Slightly spicy, the shrimp was juicy and the roux of butter and flour made for a great base. I honestly can’t say it is my favorite way to eat shrimp – the more garlic and butter, the better – but if you have a few basic ingredients in your pantry you could feel fancy and make this on a random weekday night.

1 stick butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 celery stalks, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 Vidalia Onion
1 Jalepeno Chile Pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine (always in stock)
4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
1 pound jumbo shrimp
2 cups Jasmine rice
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

It’s a one-pot stop. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, over medium high heat. Whisk the roux. WHISK IT, don’t RISK it. Don’t let it burn. It will turn a real non-appetizing medium brown color; but you’ll know you are on the right track. Add the celery, bell peppers, onion, chile pepper, garlic and sauté for five minutes. Add the wine and cook another minute; as per my usual instructions; pour a glass for yourself. Add the stock and the Cajun seasoning- stir occasionally. Add the shrimp and cook until it is cooked through- four to five minutes.

While that’s happening, cook your rice.  Once done, plate and serve. Remember to garnish with your cilantro. Whip out again in February.