Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Calming Down and Etouffee

After four days of excitement, decisions, oh mys, what ifs, and let's do it, things are beginning to calm down a bit. Last night at around 3:00 am buyers remorse set in. As I sat in bed with the comforter clutched to my chest I began the WTF stage of our recent decision to purchase 12.5 acres of farm land in a place far, far away.

What did we just do? How am I going to tell TBHITW that after sinking our savings into a lifestyle and land I've been talking about for years, I, um.. well, honey, I've been thinking... is that what we really want? I mean, that's a lot of land and do we really need to grow our own stuff and have you BEEN to the grocery store lately (Fresh Market has EVERYTHING) and wow... it's really far away and will the kids ever come to visit and can we afford it and do we, can we, should we, how could we.....OMG and WTF?

I'm better this morning. Why is everything worse in the dark (did I mention it's really dark up there on that land??)...

When I am nervous or happy or sad or experiencing any BIG range of emotions, I find it therapeutic to cook long simmering, soulful food. Etoufee is exactly that kind of food. Basically, it is Cajun Stew. Full of romance and flavor and playfulness you can cook some up and create your very own Mardi Gras with a parade of flavors.

There are lots of versions of Etoufee with the classic recipe calling for andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp. My version uses bacon (because I don't like sausage unless I know the farmer who made it), if you have access to slab bacon, all the better. Of course you can substitute the bacon for 1 pound of your favorite type of sausage.

Etoufee: serves 6

6 ounces thick cut bacon (or slab bacon) cut into 1 inch pieces
3 large chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
4 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
White or brown rice

In a large pot, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Add to hot bacon fat in pot and brown on both sides. About 5 minutes per side. Remove from pot and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to pot and melt. Sprinkle the flour over the hot fat and cook; stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping up any brown bits. Cook the roux until deep brown and fragrant. About 10 minutes.

Add the chopped vegetables, garlic and cayenne pepper and cook until vegetables are soft. About 8 minutes.

Whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

Return the chicken and the bacon to the pot and simmer until chicken is cooked through. About 30 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, make white or brown rice according to package directions.

Remove chicken from pot and let cool slightly. Keep the stew simmering. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Remove skin and bones from meat. Shred chicken and return to pot. Add the shrimp and simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes until shrimp is cooked through.

To serve: Using a small bowl or cup (an ice cream scoop works great) take about 1/2 cup rice and invert into a shallow bowl. Ladle Etoufee over rice. Serve with a croissant or french bread for sopping up all that Cajun goodness. Smile, dance, stop worrying.

Oh - and if you really need some therapy, serve pecan pie for dessert!!

Do you ever second guess your major decisions? What do you do to calm yourself down and get back on track?


  1. Your meal looks fab - It is 6pm here, no food all day... slight hysteria kicking in and then you made me look at your mouth-watering food... ARGHHHHH

    Ps Don't worry about the land - I am sure it will turn out to be the best thing you have ever done :)

  2. It's always natural to have some doubts about big things... right? I find it's worst either just before or right after you commit yourself to something. I love pecan pie, though. That will definitely make it all better :D

  3. Now you are talking my language, cher! Great recipes! That etouffee looks perfect and I am drooling over the pecan pie. Guess that I'll have to make one, now!

  4. That looks amazing! I made a paella that looks very similar last year for Valentine's Day. Your recipe actually looks a little lighter (without the sausage)! Perhaps this will be our Valentine's Meal this year!

    I freaked out after we moved out of our house and into an apartment. I freaked out for a while... in fact I still freak out a little from time to time- but I know it was the right decision. It has made me so much more centered and happy and WITHOUT NIGHTMARES for months now!

  5. Buyer's remorse is natural, particularly at 3 AM. You'll get out there and be so happy. Think about how accomplished you are going to feel after cooking dinner composed of ingredients you have loved and nourished into readiness.

    The kids will come to visit. It'll be a place to breath, to relax. And you can always take up stargazing (it works so much better in the dark, you know).

  6. You're taking a big step, so a little anxiety is not surprising! The etouffe looks wonderful.

    My hubby makes crawfish etouffe. We went all over New Orleans sampling it, and then made it a few dozen times with slight variations...it's fabulous!

  7. I just realized that I have had nothing except black coffee, diet Dr. Pepper and a handful of nuts today. I am salivating!! I know exactly how you feel. Felt the same way when we bought the campground....excited and scared all at the same time!

  8. I think you would be unhuman if you did not have a "what the hell where we thinking" moment about anything like that. Big life changes will do that to you. Between you and me and no one else when I found out I was pregnant the first time...after almost a year of trying...I had many a late night of "buyers remorse". Ahhh, maybe I will not tell her that story.


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

Related Posts with Thumbnails