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A Black Iron Haven

Crawfish Étouffée (Lite)

Posted by Rick Mansfield

If I had to pick my favorite Louisiana dish, it might just be étouffée. Like gumbo, étouffée can be made with crawfish, shrimp, crab or chicken. My favorite is crawfish which I believe have much more flavor than shrimp, but I once even tried a ground meat étoufée, which I found to be a bit unusual. Like many Louisiana dishes, étouffée is served over rice. I usually don’t put andouille or smoked sausage in mine, but I’ve seen others include it. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually tried an étouffée I didn’t like, although some are definitely better than others.

This past week I discovered a new kind of étouffé when I visited a local Cajun restaurant, J. Gumbo’s and tried their vegetarian chili cheese étouffée. I always taste before I add Tabasco, but in my sample taste of this new kind, I didn’t get one of the jalapeño peppers the dish, so after I doctored it up with the hot sauce, it was EXTRA hot!

Yesterday, I reviewed MacGourmet Deluxe (see post here). However, I’ve been using the software, a recipe database program (and so much more), since early July learning the ends and outs of it. For the week of July 4, we visited friends and family in Louisiana and had a shrimp boil on the holiday. Afterwards we had a good bit of shrimp leftover, and I suggested we use some of it for an étouffée.

Wanting to try out my newly acquired copy of MacGourmet Deluxe, I looked for an étouffée recipe. When I had installed the software, it asked if I wanted to include some sample recipes, some of which were from the website, Real Cajun Recipes, including the étouffée recipe seen below.

Now, there are two distinctions in the étouffée recipe below. First, to make it lite/diet, it forms its base from canned soup instead of a traditional roux. This is not wholly unusual, and I’ve found a couple of really good étouffée recipes that use cream of mushroom soup before, but if you’ve never had the dish, realize that what is below is not necessarily standard fare. I also feel the need to point that this is a Creole dish, not a Cajun one. At the most elementary level, what makes this Creole is the inclusion of tomatoes. My favorite étouffée dishes are the ones without tomatoes, but this one is good nonetheless (for a dozen different recipes for étouffée from Real Cajun Recipes, go here). This recipe also calls for 4 tablespoons of ketchup, which although I found to be unusual, included for the sake of trying the recipe as close as possible to its original directions.

Below is my mildly adapted version of the original. The accompanying pictures in this post show shrimp, rather than crawfish.

  • Dutch oven (4 or 5 quart recommended)
stirring the onions, bell pepper and celery
(above: sautéing the onions, bell pepper, and celery)

  • 1 pound crawfish tails or shrimp
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped fine)
  • 2 tbsp butter or canola oil
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (reduced calorie)
  • 1 can cream of celery soup (reduced calorie)
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes original or spicy
  • 2 cans water
  • ½ cup parsley
  • ½ cup green onions (onion tops)
  • 4 tbsp catsup (large dollop)
  • 1 pod of garlic (optional)
  • black pepper - to taste

In smaller Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic (optional) until onions have wilted. Add the Rotel tomatoes and stir until tomatoes are heated.

Add the cans of cream of mushroom and cream of celery. Stir and then add enough water to dilute the mixture to form a thick gravy. Remember, your crawfish or shrimp will give off water in the final steps of the cooking. Lower the heat and cook until mixture is heated, stirring as needed to prevent scorching. Add black pepper if desired. Note that the soup provides enough salt for this dish. Easy on the salt if you do decide to use it.

Rinse the crawfish in a colander to remove the crawfish fat that they were packed in. Drain well. Add crawfish to the mixture along with the parsley and green onions. Cook no more than 10 minutes. In the last couple of minutes of cooking, add a large dollop of catsup mainly for coloring but does give a nice taste to your dish. Serve over rice.

Shrimp étouffée in the dutch oven

MacGourmet users, click image to download recipe (or simply drag image to your MacGourmet recipe box).

Feel free to leave your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below, or you can contact Rick directly at