Shrimp and Chicken Etouffee

It’s another beautiful Sunday in Central Virginia. Perfect for the trick or treaters and perfect for watching football. The late game is Pittsburgh and New Orleans. New Orleans cuisine held more appeal for the group than Pittsburgh fare so I made Shrimp and Chicken Etouffee. Yum. What’s not to love about a big bowl of gravy with andouille, chicken and shrimp in it? Throw a little rice in the bottom of the bowl and you’re good to go.

I followed this recipe almost to the letter.  Clearly it’s ‘follow the recipe’ day at my house.  This recipe has a lot of parts so I wisely decided to follow the mise en place rule of cooking.  I did all the chopping, peeling, de-veining, salting and measuring before I ever turned on a burner.  It just makes things easier if you’re not playing beat the clock with your knife or hide and seek in your spice cabinet.

No one at the farmer’s market had andouille this week so I bought some Aidell’s instead.  It’s a good quality product, just not local.  Lots of flavor though.  I ended up pouring out about half of the oil that was left after browning the chicken to get to the 1/4 cup called for.  The roux was smooth and wonderful, but I didn’t cook it long enough.  This etouffee is much blonder than it should be.  The flavor is fantastic, but the color is wrong.  Definitely use dark meat chicken, even if you usually (or always) eat breast.  And do get it on the bone.  Dark meat is moister and has more flavor in general.  Use legs if you prefer or if they’re cheaper.  You’ll just need a few extras because there won’t be as much meat on each one.  I did substitute two large carmine peppers for the green bell pepper.  I don’t care for green pepper and the carmines were plentiful at the farmers’ market yesterday.

I recommend a large cast iron, or enameled cast iron, pot for this.  You’ll get a good sear on the chicken and the heat will be steady.  Be careful about using a metal whisk on an enameled cast iron pot.  It will scratch.  Use a wooden spoon, bamboo whisk or plastic whisk instead.  I cooked this up to the point of returning the chopped, cooked chicken to the pot and then turned it off.  I’m taking it to a friend’s house to serve as the evening meal so I didn’t want to finish it in the early afternoon.  I also had to transfer it to a large stock pot because she has a glass top electric stove.  You can’t put cast iron on a glass top stove.  It will definitely scratch the top and  with a large heavy dutch oven you run the risk of cracking the top.  So, I took the peeled, de-veined shrimp, the sherry and the uncooked rice with me.  I’m using brown rice because it’s what I have, but white is fine too.  This is how you can do this for tailgating too.  You may want to make the rice ahead for tailgating so you don’t have to deal with boiling water.  Just heat the etouffee and add the shrimp and sherry on site.

I’ll tell you though, when you reheat everything it’s a little bit thin.  I waited for the etouffee to simmer good and then added the shrimp.  In the end the shrimp were perfect, but the etouffee was a little bit thin.  The taste was really wonderful, but the texture wasn’t what I’d hoped.  Also, I made this mild because some folks are not into the spice.  If you like a little more spice, like I do, add some Tabasco or Texas Pete or other hot sauce.

Good? Oh yes.
Easy? Let’s call this intermediate. There are a lot of steps and making roux takes a little practice.
Good for company? Great for feeding a crowd and easy to eat while watching the game.
Special shopping? Andouille sausage.

Shrimp and Chicken Etouffee

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound andouille sausage, diced
3 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and andouille and cook, stirring, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Season the chicken with salt, then add to the pot in batches to brown, 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the plate with the andouille.

Make the roux: Remove the pot from the heat and cool slightly (there should be about 1/4 cup drippings; drain or add oil as needed). Return the pot to medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, scraping up the browned bits from the pan with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture smells nutty and turns a deep brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, cayenne, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Whisk in the broth. Return the chicken and andouille to the pot and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool slightly while the stew simmers; remove the skin and shred the meat. Return the meat to the pot. Stir in the shrimp and sherry and cook until the shrimp turn pink, 2 to 3 more minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

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