Etouffee a Different Way...
Everyone has their own crawfish etouffee recipe. Everyone thinks theirs is the best. I am not going to say that they’re wrong, but instead offer an alternative - chicken etouffee. This is a mildly eclectic etouffee that brings together flavors of a dark roux and some locally brewed Louisiana beer to create a new and delightful dining experience. Imagine, if you will, presenting your friends and family with a new, yet seemingly familiar, dish. Chicken Etouffee will have them excited from the aromas wafting through the house as you prepare it and bring it to the table. Just imagine the joy on their faces as they they look at their first serving of it.
The original variety of etouffee is, of course, crawfish. This culinary sensation was first devised in the 1920’s by Mrs. Charles Herbert and her two daughters, Marie and Yolie, of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana and was served at their Herbert Hotel. The word etouffee comes from the French word “étouffer” which means to smother or suffocate. In this case, the Herberts were smothering vegetables and crawfish in a roux based sauce. Eventually the recipe was passed onto a family friend, Aline Guidry Champagne. Around 1947, Aline would then open her own restaurant, RendezVous Café, where she served the Herberts’ dish which became an instant success. While crawfish etoufee became a local staple in Breaux Bridge it took a little while for it to catch on in the Big Easy and abroad.
Imagine now, there is steam rising from the bowl. The chicken is falling off the bone. They can’t wait to dig in. You are the star of the night. Everyone will ask about this recipe. Maybe you will smile and respond, “It all starts with a roux.” Below I will tell you how you can achieve this.
- 3 - 4 pounds of bone in chicken preferably legs and breasts
- 1 cup oil
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper, seasoned to taste
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped and seeded
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 12-ounce bottles of Abita Amber
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons of dried thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- Tabasco to taste
Begin by chopping all the vegetables.
The next step is preparing the chicken. Evenly season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Next, using half a cup of flour, dredge the chicken, while eating half a cup of oil over medium heat. The oil will be ready when sprinkling a small amount of flour in it makes it bubble. Brown both sides of the chicken in the oil then set aside.
Now it is time to make the roux! Heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Once it is ready add the remaining flour and cook for 20 minutes or until it is brown. Stir constantly or it will clump and burn.
Once the roux has reached proper browning add the chopped onion. Cook until onion is caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes. Next stir in the bell peppers and cook for around four minutes or until the bell peppers have softened.
This is the step that turns the roux into a sauce. Add the chicken broth, beer, garlic, thyme, tabasco, and bay leaf, stirring to incorporate. Add salt and pepper for taste. Cook for 10 minutes.
We are almost there! Add the chicken. Cover and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. After this the chicken should be tender and falling off the bone.
Serve over rice.