Etouffée and gumbo—really, most Cajun and creole recipes—start with roux (pronounced roo). Pronouncing “roux” is intimidating enough to lots of folks, let alone thinking about making it.
There seems to be an assumption that roux-making requires a degree in culinary arts or at least hours of stirring over a hot stove accompanied by several Abitas. But that’s just crazy talk. Anyone with an oven can make roux—try this recipe and prove it for yourself!
Roux is simply flour browned in oil. White roux, which is flour cooked for just a few minutes in oil, is the basis for gravy, cream sauce and thickening any liquid.
The longer you cook the flour and oil together, the darker your roux becomes. A dark brown roux can indeed take forever on the stovetop. But, we’re going to brown our flour in the oven. There’s no standing around stirring for hours watching your flour oh-so-slowly turn brown. You can toast the flour well in advance and store it in your freezer, or you can toast it immediately prior to using. Either way, you’ll get all the flavor of New Orleans. The Abita is optional!
Big Easy Creole Shrimp and Rice
2 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
3 Tbsp. browned flour
1 large onion, peeled
3 stalks of celery
3 large bell peppers, cored (any color)
4 plum tomatoes, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning (Emeril’s or Penzey’s are good!)
1 lb. large frozen cooked shrimp
1.5 cups uncooked white rice
4 cups chicken broth
To brown your flour, spread three-fourths of a cup of all-purpose flour evenly in a glass baking dish or pie pan. (Use a glass pan so you can see the color of the flour as it toasts.) Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for one hour, stirring at the 30- and 45-minute marks.
Meanwhile, roughly chop all the vegetables and set aside. Pour the frozen shrimp into a flat-bottomed pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning; toss to coat. Set aside to thaw.
Pour two tablespoons of oil into a Dutch oven (or other large, thick-bottomed pot with a lid) on medium heat. Stir in three tablespoons of browned flour and cook until the flour is dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble. (Save the remainder of your flour for your next Cajun dish.)
Toss in one tablespoon of Cajun seasoning and all of the veggies. Give everything a good stir, cover the pan, turn heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour in three cups of broth and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When the broth comes to a boil, stir in the raw rice, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 10 minutes, still over low heat.
Remove the lid, give your pot a stir, and take a taste. If the rice is still al dente and seems a bit dry, add up to one cup of additional broth if needed. Add Cajun seasoning or salt to taste. Cover and cook for five more minutes, until the rice is done.
Still on low heat, stir in the shrimp and their liquid, and cook, uncovered, for two to three minutes until the shrimp are pink. Garnish with scallion slices or parsley and serve immediately.