Good morning everyone!
Hope everyone is well and good and all.
There was an informal poll in the DFO clubhouse the other day about vaccines and a surprising number of our crew have been vaccinated.
Good for them!
My state is STILL vaccinating healthcare workers and those over 65. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for them as well but Mother of Fuck the waiting until it’s my group is almost as agonizing as last March when we had no fucking clue what was going on. The shit is still out of control here in L.A. and I’m still walking out the door and going to work 5 goddamn days a week.
I’m ready for my goddamn shot already!
Here’s a fun little work story before we get to the festivities. As I mentioned before I’ve been working throughout the pandemic and reporting to the same building as always. We’re basically fully staffed with most folks on an every other day or half day rotation.
Not me. Forty goddamn hours a week!
Anyway, I’ve only seen my building going about it’s regular routine so at least work-wise I hadn’t seen the other main buildings on the campus.
Last week I had a meeting in another building that I hadn’t been in in years. This was kind of fucked in it’s own right. But I needed to see a potential work project to understand it’s scope as well as give an estimate on how long it would take to complete. This was a good size building, three stories and shit.
There was only my one customer and me in the building.
That got the point across. Holy shit that was creepy. All of this expensive-ass real estate and nobody inside.
Everyone but the folks in my building is working safely from their homes and has been since March.
So? Vaccine? Real soon? Pretty fucking please?
Alright let’s get to the good stuff.
There were a couple of sort-of decent things to come from the pandemic.
One of the only good things to come out of this incredibly fucked up year or two has been my bread game. Forced to stay inside on the weekends I wasted many hours in my kitchen fucking around with homemade bread.
Yes Sir and yes Ma’am. It’s gotten to be a guaranteed victory every time I make it now.
Repetition brings greatness.
Which all goes to say, I really wanted some homemade French Bread and the menu came about as a result of that.
How often in your life have you thought “Damn, I want some bread! Now what should I have with that?”
Like, fucking never.
My brain, when faced with this dilemma, went strait to New Orleans. Home of the best motherfucking bread on the planet.
So maybe we could come up with something Creole to go along with the bread.
I’m not gonna link or give a litany of the many, many Creole menus we’ve explored here on Sunday Gravy – use the search function for that – but it took me a moment to think of one we haven’t done before.
I came up with one!
Etouffee means “Smothered” in Cajun/Creole whatever the fuck they speak down in the swamps down there. So it’s basically gravy.
Well shit! That’s what we do here!
Let’s go ahead and knock the bread out of the way since we’ve done it many times before.
You bloom your yeast with the 110-115 degree water and add in the first 2 cups of flour to make the sponge.
Just mix until combined. Then get your hook attachment, add in the last of the flour, set your timer to 10 minutes and let the mixer work.
Ten minutes should do ‘er.
See? It’s coming together.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl for it’s first 1 hour rise.
Punch down, let rise for another 30 minutes. Then we shape the loaf and give a score or two with a bread knife.
Remember the shape is important. Just a couple of inches wide but elongated for the best results. Let rise another half hour.
Cover with the egg wash, and cook in a 375 oven for 25 minutes.
Now you may be thinking: “How did you get the bread to rise like that when it’s in the middle of fucking February?”
Good question. First answer would be “Because I fucking live in LA?” Although it was a bit chilly outside when I made this.
The correct answer would be: “I had an idea that would require the oven to be on during the entire time it took the bread to rise.” Not just on for the fuck of it, but on for a good reason.
It’s also a new cooking trick for all-a-yez.
You know from our previous ventures that many Creole recipes require a roux, and several of them require a dark roux which requires cooking and stirring and stirring and stirring for like half a fucking hour to get the right level of doneness.
Did you know you can bake a roux? In the motherfucking oven? And it will turn out fucking perfect?
I shit you negative.
Let’s do that!
As always, a roux is equal parts fat and flour.
Today that means 2/3 cup of oil and 2/3 cup of all purpose flour. Mix to combine.
What’s our cooking vessel for this venture?
Just pour that mixture right on in!
This goes in a preheated 350 degree oven for right about…
Two fucking hours! Exactly the amount of time it takes the bread to finish rising!
How fucking cool is that shit?
I stirred the roux around about every 30 minutes or so while it was cooking.
How did it turn out?
Text. Fucking. Book!
Perfect for any Creole recipe calling for a dark or “chocolate” roux. I even stashed some away in the fridge for later use!
Before I keep on sucking my own dick I’ve got to drop some truth on you.
That pan was a fucking pain-in-the goddamn ASS to clean!
Don’t worry! The cast iron skillet maintained it’s pristine, seasoned finish. The roux didn’t burn or anything it just took about 20 minutes of scrubbing under warm water. I lost one brand new sponge to the process. The roux is a gluey, gummy wad of goddamn petroleum based goo that wants to take up permanent fucking residence in that pan.
Guess there’s a reason to cook the roux in the same pot you’re going to cook the rest of the dish in.
But I wouldn’t have had the oven on and a cool ass trick to show you!
Would I make the roux the same way again?
Uhhh. I’ll get back to you on that.
inspiration from askchefdennis.com
The roux we made earlier.
1 pound shrimp shelled and deveined
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup onion diced
1/2 cup celery diced
1/2 cup bell pepper diced – I used a red bell pepper
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
14 ounce can diced tomato
1 glug of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Essence
Hot sauce to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup green onion chopped fine
Rice for serving
This one is really easy. In fact, I made this for the Superb Owl. It was ready right before kickoff.
Get your holy trinity – and the garlic.
Get to dicing!
Quick note: I’m still working on my photography angles in the new dojo. My main kitchen counter has a long cupboard that stretches over the top of the entire length of counter which causes the shadows. That cupboard is also at a scary fucking height and I’m pretty certain I’m eventually going to bang the fucking Bejesus out of my head on it someday. It’s also got a sharp corner that’s perfectly at my goddamn eyeball level.
Take out a Dutch oven and scoop some of that roux we made in there.
I gave my cast iron skillet the rest of the day off.
Now get them chopped up veggies in that pan.
Stir and cook for about 10 minutes to soften the trinity. Next add in the garlic and give a stir or two then in go the canned tomatoes.
At this point toss in the salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, the shot of Worcestershire and pour the chicken stock over everything. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and let this simmer down for about 40-50 minutes.
During the cooking time, go ahead and get the shrimp ready.
That’s about a 12 count of jumbo shrimp. Season the shrimp with the essence. These will go in the pot for the last 8-10 minutes of cooking time. Cook until just pink but cooked through.
Get a pot out and cook up your rice. Scoop some of that cooked rice in to a bowl.
It goes down like this, rice into bowl, ladle some of the etouffee over the top – make sure to get some shrimp in there – and top with a garnish of diced green onion. Season to taste with your favorite Louisiana style hot sauce. As always, Red Rooster over here.
Slice up some of that bread first.
The trinity shines through front and center. Next you get the sweet “pop” and the brininess from the shrimp. There’s a low level smolder from the essence and the cayenne, then the vinegar tang from the hot sauce and combine all of that with the rice? That makes this one mean Creole Mo-Fo!
That bread though? God almighty it’s fan-fucking-tastic. Crusty, a little sweet, with a yeasty punch. That bread is the moneymaker right there.
Quick post mortem. The etoufee was good. Real good. But I’ve had better in New Orleans. I think I should have used more of the cooked roux rather than holding some back. The dish missed that nutty, earthy finish it really needed. Next time – and there will be a next time – I’m going to take the time to make my own stock too. Maybe even a seafood stock. Another trick I may try is breaking out the immersion blender to the sauce right before adding the shrimp. This was a little chunkier than other versions I’ve tried.
This dish was damn tasty but it tasted like it was my first time making it.
Because it was.
This is that repetition thing I eluded to earlier. Enough iterations and we can make that etouffee sing like that French bread sings.
Like a motherfucking rock star.
That’s it for this week, folks.
We’ve got a long damn offseason to slog through but we’ll get there. We’ll get there.
Thanks as always for being there people.
I truly appreciate you.