Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In which The Hungry Lady makes étouffée

I don't know about y'all, but my friends and I are pretty big True Blood fans.  L, M, and I get together just about every Sunday for dinner and Alexander Skarsgaard vampires.  This season, we've somehow managed to make food that relates to the show - for the premiere, we pretended we were at Merlotte's, and made a bunch of fried things.  We've also had jambalaya.  This past Sunday it was my turn to cook.  As my usual cooking repertoire includes pasta or anything that can go in the microwave, I figured I had to expand a little bit.  I decided to make étouffée.  And I also made sure to put the number of the nearest Chinese restaurant on speed dial.

So what is étouffée, you ask?  Think gumbo, only a little thicker.  Peppers, onions, spices, and some kind of protein mixed together and served over rice.  Usually the protein is some kind of seafood - shrimp and/or crawfish being the most common.  Clearly my étouffée wasn't going to involve either of those as I wouldn't have been able to eat it.  I decided to use chicken and sausage instead.

The first thing I had to do was find a recipe.  After googling "étouffée," I saw that I had about 7 zillion choices.  I eventually settled on two recipes: this one and this one.  I figured that I would take some elements of each one and go from there.  So here's my shopping list:

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast (because it was easiest)
1 pound of andouille sausage
1 onion
8ish cloves of garlic (my recipes called for about 5-6 cloves, but I really like garlic)
1 8 oz. package of diced bell peppers (I was feeling lazy, and Publix has a pepper mix all ready to go)
1 8 oz. package of diced celery (also with the pre-packaged kind)
Parsley (just about a handful)
Hot sauce (as much or as little as you want)
1 bottle of beer (I only had Sam Adams Summer Ale on hand, but I would recommend something darker)
2/3 cup of flour
1 stick of butter
3 cups of chicken broth
Black Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Bay Leaves
Rice (white, brown, dirty...your choice)

How it's made
Get a big, deep skillet or pan.  Brown the sausage and set it aside.  Brown the chicken and add it to the sausage.   Add the chopped parsley and 1/2 cup beer to the meat mixture and put it aside.

I probably could have let the chicken get more color, but here's the meat.
In the same pan, melt the butter and flour together to make a roux.  You will need to stir this constantly, and it will take about 15 minutes.  It should look a little like peanut butter (but not quite that thick) when it's done.

L making the roux while I frantically chopped garlic & onions.
Once your roux is ready to go, add in the garlic, onion, peppers, and celery.  Cook, stirring a lot, until the veggies are crisp-tender.  I like my veggies crunchy, so I didn't cook these as long as I should have, but it worked out ok.

The veggies just hanging out in the pan.
Once your veggies are at your desired level of tenderness, add 1 cup of beer and 3 cups of chicken stock.  I would definitely recommend a dark, flavorful beer.  You should add in all of your spices here too.  I didn't have any bay leaves, so I left them out, but I think it needed them.  I'd love to make it again and see how the flavor changes.  This is also where I added the hot sauce.  I used just a couple of splashes because M doesn't really like anything too spicy, and I figured we could always add more to our individual plates.

Simmering veggies in the liquid.
Cover this and let it sit for about 20 minutes. The liquid should reduce a little and start to thicken.  You should probably also give it a stir every few minutes.  Once it seems like everything is blended well (I strongly recommend  taste testing a few times), add the meat mixture to the pan.  Stir, cover, and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Make sure your rice is ready to go.  I'm lazy, so I used minute rice (also much less stressful), so I put the rice on around the same time I added the meat.  If you use real rice, you'll probably want to get it started around the time you add the liquids to the veggies.    

While we were waiting for the meat to heat back through and for the rice and garlic bread to finish cooking, we made a salad (again with the lazy - we went with one of those pre-packaged bagged salad mixes) and munched on that.  It had spring mix lettuce, raisins, bleu cheese, candied nuts, and, well, I forget what kind of dressing.  But it was delicious.  

Deliciousness in a bowl.
Once everything is ready to go, add some rice to the bottom of your bowl and then spoon the étouffée over it. Add a piece of garlic bread on the side, to sop up any extra liquid, and you're good to go.

I apologize for the blurriness.  I was hungry and super ready to eat this.
A few observations
This was delicious, but it definitely needed more hot sauce.  I added some to my bowl (you can see the red lines in the picture above), and that helped.  I wish it had been a little bit thicker.  I'm not really sure how to make that happen - probably by letting things cook a little longer.  I'm impatient and I was hungry, so that wasn't happening.  Definitely use a darker beer.  I would use less celery and add more peppers.  I would also add a little bit more sausage, or I would cut the chicken into smaller pieces.

Bottom line?  I have leftovers for most of the week.  What I made would easily serve 6-8.  If you can eat shrimp or crawfish, I think you should add them in.  I really liked this meal, and it was a lot easier to make than I thought it would be. L & M were pretty happy with it too.  I'm pretty proud of myself for making this.  Super time consuming, but worth it in the end.  Next time I'll even make the roux, but for now, HUGE thanks to L for taking over this step.


  1. For someone who claims they aren't a cook, tackling a roux is quite impressive! The pix look delicious.

  2. I didn't make the roux. A friend of mine took care of that part. But I imagine that I'll have to tackle it myself next time.

  3. Impressive that ya'll have been able to theme your TB dinners for 4 or 5(?) episodes so far! My friends and I were like uhh.... spaghetti? Raspberry cheesecake?

  4. In truth, we've missed a couple weeks, so we've been watching multiple episodes each week. And I'm pretty sure our theme meals are done...I think we've run out of ideas!