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Crawfish Etouffee

1/2 c oil or margarine
1/2 flour
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 c fairly rich shrimp broth
1 T lemon
1/2 c crawfish fat (substitute 3-4 T crawfish liquid or crawfish stock)
1 T lemon juice
1 t salt (omit if using crawfish stock)
1 T fresh parsley (1 t dried)
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t thyme
1 bay leaf
1 lb frozen crawfish, all liquid included
2 large scallion tops, sliced
cooked converted rice

Make a medium dark roux by whisking the flour into the oil over
medium heat and cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture is
the color of chocolate. Add the onion along with the celery and
garlic, and sautee over medium low heat until vegetables are tender,
about 10 minutes. Slowly add the shrimp stock, and bring to a
boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and add lemon juice, crawfish
fat/stock/liquid, and the spices. Simmer 15 minutes. Add the
crawfish and any liquid, bring to a rapid simmer, reduce to a low
simmer, add the scallions, and simmer just until the crawfish are
tender, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings. To serve, mound some
rice in a plate, and ladle some of the etouffee on top. This recipe
makes about 4 servings.

Note: Crawfish fat gives the dish its characteristic flavor. In
New Orleans, it can be bought in the stores, but it's tough to find
elsewhere, so substitute. If you do find it, keep it refrigerated,
as it is very perishable. By crawfish liquid, I mean any run off
from frozen crawfish. Whenever you use crawfish for another reason
(making Cajun popcorn, say), you should save any liquid from the
inside of the package that remains after defrosting. This liquid
is mainly water, but it will be orange in color from the crawfish
fat and meat. Finally, to make crawfish stock, take a dozen or so
crawfish heads left over from a crawfish boil, and cover with some
of the left over cooking liquid or water. Bring to a boil, reduce
to a simmer, and cook for several hours. At the end of simmering,
strain the stock, and reduce in half. Be careful when using this
stock because it will be very salty. Omit any salt from the recipe,
and adjust at the end.


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