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Delta Tomato and Crawfish Étouffée

Martha Foose

Étouffée means muffled in music and in cooking it means smothered. Crawfish Étouffée is a dish seen in Creole and Cajun cooking in Louisiana and throughout the Mississippi Delta region. Some folks say the Cajun more rustic version should not include tomatoes and the more refined Creole version must include tomatoes. Here in the Delta we fall firmly into the with tomatoes camp.
A unique double crop is grown in the sprawling rice fields. Rice grows in a few inches of water and when it has grown tall enough for the grass to form a canopy to shade the waters and keep it cool crawfish are introduced and harvested after the rice has been harvested.



6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups crawfish stock, shrimp stock, or vegetable stock
1 pound peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Hot pepper sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 pounds crawfish tails, with the fat (not imported)
4 finely chopped green onion
1 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley


In a Dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until a grocery store paper sack colored roux is made. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the stock, tomatoes, salt, red pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crawfish tails and fat, lemon juice, green onions, and parsley and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf Add remaining butter and stir to combine well. Serve over piping hot Missmati or Basmati rice.

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