Monday, March 16, 2009

Chili Cheese Shrimp Etouffee

Nearly everyone I know is trying to save money and watch their spending, so it's not that unusual for our Friday night out to become a Friday night in. I try to make something a little out of the ordinary, and we splurge a little calorically. Before Lent started, I stocked up on frozen shrimp at Trader Joe's and then Kroger when it was on sale, so I'm trying to work through my stash. I wish I could find frozen crawfish tails somewhere, but so far I haven't had much luck.

When I was in Bloomington visiting my best friend Abby, her and her boyfriend took me to this great little Cajun/Creole place called Dat's. They both got the chili cheese etouffee, and I got something else that was also delicious. Even though they mocked me for requiring the use of the many hot sauces they had available to get the heat to my preferred level, I got to steal bites of their food as well. And this dish is a dead ringer for that.

Honestly, this might be one of the better dishes I've ever made. Many times, my dishes have one distinct flavor that's complemented by the other ingredients, but this is just an amalgamation of flavors without one sticking out from the others. For those of you afraid of spicy food, the cheese and cream will soothe your tongue, and you can also modify the amount of cayenne pepper and Tabasco. This also makes a large amount, so have a crowd over or be prepared for the leftovers!

Chili Cheese Shrimp Etouffee
adapted from: Is Life a Conundrum


1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped green onions, plus more to garnish
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
1 cup diced onions
2 tsp. minced onion
1 cup Rotel Original diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups shredded aged cheddar
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1 tsp. chili powder
Pinch ground coriander
Pinch groun cumin
Pinch ground cloves
Dash Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco sauce
1 pound cooked shrimp (or crawfish, chicken, or some combination of the three)
Cooked white rice, to serve
Dry sherry, to garnish


1. Make a roux by melting the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat and then blending in the flour, consistently stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the roux is a golden color.
2. Add the green onions, celery, bell peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes and cook until the onions have browned.
3. Add the thyme, tomato paste, basil and peppers (black, white, cayenne).
4. Add the stock, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until the mixture becomes thick.
5. Add the cheese, half-and-half, chili powder, coriander, cumin, cloves, Worcestershire, and Tabasco and stir until the cheese and half-and-half are blended in well.
6. Gently stir in the crawfish, shrimp, and/or chicken and serve over fluffy white rice. Garnish with chopped green onions and drizzle with dry sherry.