I really wasn't sure what etouffee was. Or, rather, how it differed from gumbo. Creole/Cajun food, to me, has many similar ingredients for different dishes. It's a culinary arena I'd like to learn more about. I heard about a cook book titled, Who's Your Mama, are You Catholic and can You Cook a Roux? which, I have to say, is one of the funniest titles of a cook book I've seen. I've never glanced through it. Does anyone know if it's any good?
Creole and cajun are used interchangeably but actually refer to the two different backgrounds in the New Orleans culture. One denotes the upper class, French derived land owner type people and the other the native people and those from Africa who blended their cultures in. In other words, the haves and the have nots. Although, I have to confess I know very little about this and can never remember which one is which.
Etouffee is a little like gumbo, but with a lighter roux and less soupy. It can have almost the same ingredients (onion, bell pepper, chicken, shrimp, andouille, even okra) but is a separate dish. At least, this is what I concluded from my research of recipes. We made it last night and I'm not sure how, but it didn't taste like gumbo. It did taste awesome, and was the perfect meal to eat while cheering the New Orleans Saints on to victory.
I first browned some andouille slices and rendered out some of the fat. I hadn't had a chance to go to my favorite local meat place, so I made do with chicken andouille from Wegman's. It was nice and more cohesive than the fresh made sausage. The flavor was more subtle, but there was still plenty of it. After removing the slices, I added a bit of butter and started to build my roux. I let it get to about a lightly milked coffee color before adding in onion, pepper and garlic. I also generously shook in some cayenne and dropped a palm full of file powder (powdered sassafrass). The only other spice element I added (copious amounts of black pepper don't count) was about a teaspoon of habanero hot sauce.
When the veggies had cooked a bit, I added just enough chicken stock to make a gravy, but not so much as to flood it. This I covered and simmered to let everything soften. Part way through, I threw the sausage back in. When it was just about done, we tossed in some shelled shrimp until just cooked and served over rice.
As a full disclosure, I could probably eat a bowl full of onions cooked in roux. That taste is intoxicating. As a dish, our etouffee was phenomenal. Complex, hearty, warm and comforting. I don't know if it was authentic, but I like to think it was. Darling Husband suggested we might have to make it again for the Super Bowl.