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Seafood Étouffée {Mardi Gras}

I originally wanted to make a traditional Crawfish* Étouffée for Mardi Gras, but crawfish are hard to find in the store and I wasn't about to trek to a muddy creek to hunt for some this week. Another time...maybe I'll make this on a summer camping trip when we normally catch crawfish anyway...and because the dish was a hit!

Étouffée means 'smothered' in French. Smothering meat, seafood or vegetables is a technique utilized in both Cajun and Creole cuisines. The technique involves cooking in a covered pan over low heat with a small amount of liquid; it's really just a form of braising. The dishes cooked like this are usually served over steamed white rice; I used some brown jasmine rice tonight.

*Crawfish, crawdads, crayfish and mudbugs are all names for the same tasty critter. Click to read the Cajun legend of how crawfish came to be.

2 pounds mixed seafood (I used shrimp, squid, scallops, and some chunks of white fish)
1/4 C butter
2 T olive oil
1/4 C white whole wheat flour
1 leek, trimmed and diced
2 carrots, diced
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
6 mini bell peppers (I used 2 yellow, 2 orange, and 2 red)
1-1/2 C duck stock (use chicken or whatever you had...I had duck stock in my freezer)
1 T tomato paste
2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 t hot sauce (I used some tomatillo salsa instead)
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
cooked rice for serving

Melt butter in a splash of olive oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat; stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly for approximately 5 minutes or until a caramel-colored roux is formed. Add leeks, peppers, carrots, and fennel. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Stir in broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Bring to a simmer.

Add the seafood, cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the seafood is opaque and firm to the touch. Stir in the parsley just before serving.

Spoon hot rice into serving bowls. Scoop the cooked seafood over the rice and serve hot.


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