Ahhh Etouffee. A classic French Creole dish down from the Big Easy. NOLA. Nawlins. The Crescent City. New Orleans. You get the picture. I LOVE THIS CITY! My heart comes alive among all of the music and culture. The chaos and food. The art, and putrid smell of stagnant water. I love it all. A few years back my sister Miss Tara Ma’am and I made a trip down for her birthday.
Traveling tip: If you are in New Orleans for your birthday, clip a dollar to your shirt. People will give you money and free stuff. It’s awesome!!!
Anyway. Tara had a very specific list of foods that she wanted to consume during this trip. This was our third or fourth time there and couldn’t live with the fact that she hadn’t tried all of the local delicacies. So to put her mind at ease we hunted down some Etoufee. Traditionally, this is a shrimp based dish. My version uses chickpeas instead. Because they kind of look like little balls of shrimp. And the best part, taste nothing like it! You don’t really taste the shrimp in this dish anyway, because they sauce is so flavorful it overtakes everything in it. Which is great. Because it’s great. Let the overtaking begin!
First we’re going to start with the Holy Trinity or Creole and Cajun cookery. Onion, celery, and bell pepper. We’re using red bell pepper for this dish because it’s pretty. And is slightly less overpowering than green. But use green if you really love that flavor. Chop up the holy trinity into teeny tiny bits known as brunoise in classical French cooking. Look at you learning new cooking terminology. Take a few cloves of garlic and mince that up as well. Like I said, I put garlic in everything.
Now don’t add them to the pan just yet. You need to make your roux first. You’ll do this by adding equal parts fat (oil) and flour to the pan. Stir often and let it cook until it starts to turn dark brown and give(and garlic) and sauté that until fully coated and the veggies start to break down. Dice up a zucchini into little baby brunoise and add these to the mix. Saute for a minute longer. Now we add our crushed tomatoes. Fully mix in with the vegetables. You’ll immediately begin to notice that the sauce is thickening up. This is good! Reduce the heat before you burn it and ruin everything. Now you’re going to add your chickpeas. Stir.
Time to add even MORE flavor to this masterpiece. We’re going to add a dash of vegan Worcestershire sauce (has anyone figured out how to actually pronounce that? Because I still struggle.) Paprika, cayenne, a few sprigs of thyme, and bay leaves. Add a bit of salt as well but only a little bit to enhance flavor.
Mix this all together, lower the heat to a simmer if it isn’t there already and cover it up to give it some privacy while the flavors mingle and marry. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. Now is a good time to steam some long grain rice to serve it with. You have to have it with rice. You just HAVE to.
Once the time is up, taste it and adjust the seasoning if you must. I like mine to be a bit heavy on the Worcestershire but that’s just me. Now that it’s all done, plate it up with some rice and garnish it with freshly chopped parsley. It gives this deep heavy stew a little breath of freshness. Perfection! Enjoy that.
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bell pepper
2 stalks of celery
3 cloves garlic
1 10 oz. can chickpeas (drained)
1 10 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp worcestershire
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground paprika
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
Parsley leaves for garnish
- Heat oil, add flour. Cook until it begins to brown and gives off a nutty aroma.
- Dice onion, pepper, and celery. Add to flour mixture, saute until fully coated and the vegetables start to become tender.
- Cook 1 cup of long grain rice, according to the packaging directions.
- Add the canned tomatoes and chickpeas, stir.
- Add the bay leaves, thyme, paprika, Worcestershire and cayenne.
- Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Uncover, remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
- Serve over rice, garnish with parsley.