A good road dog can tell you the best places to grab a meal when you’re marking a lot of time on the highways of this continent. We’re talking everything from fondue at Banff’s legendary Grizzly House in the province of Alberta, Canada to JD’s Burger Barn in Mesquite, Texas. Both delivered a satisfied smile.
Some years ago we drove to Key West to spend a few days. We’d arranged our drive to take us through New Orleans where we’d spend the night, then the next morning head over to Brennan’s for a rare breakfast of Eggs Hussarde.
We arrived in New Orleans that night late and hungry. It was close to ten o’clock in the evening, closing time was just around the corner. As it happened, so was K-Paul’s Restaurant and we decided to take a chance and see if we could manage a seat. We had our doubts but hunger herded us across the street and it was a shade before ten-o’clock when we joined the small line out front.
Moments after we took our place in line a staff member came out, ushered us all inside and placed a closed sign on the door. We’d squeaked into K-Paul’s by the skin of our teeth. It was a chance taken that really paid-off. Chef Paul Prudhomme even stuck his head out of the kitchen and greeted the crowd while smoking a cigarette.
The Classic Crawfish Étouffée served that evening was exceptional (I started to say sublime but the word just sounds so pretentious I can’t use it). So, for the record, the étouffée was good, really good.
A road weary day of driving closed out with an amazing meal at K-Paul’s. Everything seemed right with the world and hand in hand we strolled back toward the hotel to pick up our car with very happy tummies.
Sounds romantic, right? Hand in hand, strolling New Orleans at midnight after a late night dinner. Well, what you don’t know is that the valet at the Royal Hotel, where we decided to park in an effort to be safe off the street, kamikazed Stella’s (no, not her real name) new shiny red Honda into a support post in the garage, tearing off the side molding and creating a large crease in the front side panel and door. Then in an effort to hide the damage, the valet ran around and opened the banged up door with the hope my wife would find his gallantry charming and mindlessly sit down inside the car. Stella (totally not her real name) decided to just take a look around the car to ensure all was well. As you know it was not and the events that followed, as they say, is another story.
As time passed Stella prepared, changed, modified and tested many easy étouffée recipes – an “easy-fix” version that does not require a lifetime of sacrifice creating the “perfect” roux. Then her sister shared a recipe that was too easy to pass up. Stella calls it “the canned soup étouffée recipe.” She’s made a few modifications to the original recipe to keep it lower in fat but this recipe produces an étouffée that is hearty and comforting, really quite good and best of all quick and easy to prepare.
In the accompanying video we use langostino “little lobster tails”. Fortunately our local Trader Joe’s market sells one-pound bags of langostino, which are a great substitute.
Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes
Cooking Time: About 30:00 minutes
Tools you’ll need:
A Dutch Oven
A Spoon for Stirring
A Knife or Cleaver
1 med. onion
1 can chopped ROTEL
1 can diced Italian tomatoes
1 can Light Cream of Celery soup
1 package (1lb.) frozen, cleaned cooked crawfish or langostino
1t garlic salt
Pinch of thyme
Sauté onion in PAM or other oil spray until clear.
Add butter and melt.
Add the flour to brown for roux.
Stir in ROTEL,tomatoes, celery soup, crawfish or langostino, cumin, salt and thyme.
Simmer 30 minutes.