Celebrate Mardi Gras—or spice up any old Tuesday of the year!—with this classic Creole étouffée from chef Justin Devillier. The dish starts with a simple roux, which is the backbone for “smothering” the crawfish in a traditional New Orleans preparation. (Note: If crawfish isn't readily available where you are, chicken, shrimp, and crab also work well!)
Before preparing the vegetables, clarify the butter (not shown in video): Place 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup) in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. Milk solids will foam to the surface, then sink to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the simmering settles and the milk solids have separated from the butterfat, 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain to remove milk solids. Measure out ½ cup of clarified butter for use in this recipe. (Cool the remaining butter and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.) Prepare the vegetables: While the butter is clarifying, dice the onion and celery and mince the garlic. Remove stem ends from red bell pepper and jalapeño, then slice the peppers lengthwise into thin strips. Discard the seeds and white veins, then small-dice the strips.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the clarified butter and flour over high heat; whisk to combine and get rid of the lumps. This will form a paste called a roux. As soon as the lumps are gone, reduce heat to medium, switch to a wooden spoon, and cook, scraping the bottom to keep it from burning. (If you see steam or smoke, turn the temperature down further.) Keep stirring to prevent the roux from burning, up to 30 minutes. As the roux cooks, it will darken in color.
When the roux is reddish and on its way to brown, add onion, red pepper, celery, jalapeño, and garlic; stir to combine with the roux. Allow vegetables to sweat and soften, about 2 minutes.
Turn heat to high and slowly add the stock into the roux mixture, whisking constantly. As the sauce comes to a boil, it will rapidly thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Once the sauce is the right consistency, add the crawfish and bay leaves; stir to combine. Season to taste with several pinches of salt. Stir in the chopped scallions and cayenne pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer, 10–12 minutes.
Assembly: Taste étouffée and adjust seasoning. Stir in chopped parsley and juice of one lemon and stir to combine. Serve over hot steamed rice.