Somewhere between an etouffee and a gumbo lies sauce piquant, a rich, roux-based stew with a little kick. The layered flavors of a caramel dark roux, the trinity of Louisiana cooking, rich tomatoes and the added kick of Creole seasoning and chiles is everything you want in a Cajun meal. It’s a perfect winter dish, warm and comforting and spicy, a slow simmered stew packed with flavor. What could be better for a February Mardi Gras?
You can make this with crawfish, chicken or catfish (or heck, alligator if you want) cut into pieces, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. Traditionally, this is served over rice, but I think it also makes a delicious topping for grits. Serve it in deep bowls with some hot sauce to shake over the top. Make it a Mardi Gras meal with some Cafe Brulot Brownies or Bananas Foster Pound Cake.
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 medium white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup flour
- 1 Tablespoon creole seasoning (like Tony Chachere's)
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (10-ounce) ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 (4-ounce can) diced green chiles
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp (thawed if frozen)
- Hot sauce to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooked rice
- Finely dice the celery, bell pepper and onion. Finely mince the garlic and have it all near the stove.
- Now we are going to make a roux. In a large (at least 5 quart) heavy pan (I like enameled cast iron), heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth and lump-free. Cook the roux, stirring frequently, until the color begins to darken. As it deepens, stir more frequently, then constantly, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. As it darkens, it can burn quickly so pay attention. I use a heatproof spatula or a wooden spoon for my roux. When the roux has turned a deep brown, between the color of sweet tea and a good bourbon, after about 15 minutes, add the chopped onion, celery and bell pepper and stir well. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and creole seasoning and give it a good stir. Now add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, green chiles and chicken broth, stirring constantly as you pour them in. The roux may appear to curdle or seize, but keep stirring, it will smooth out. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Add a few dashes of hot sauce and some salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the shrimp to the sauce, cover the pot, and cook for about 10 minutes, just until the shrimp are pink, curled and cooked through. Serve over cooked white rice.
I’m Cajun, and this looks great! The only thing I plan to do differently when I make it is to leave out the chilis (not Cajun). I’ll substitute tomato sauce for the dices tomatoes with green chilis (my grandma’s sauce piquant was more smooth than chunky) and spice it up with cayenne. Yum!