“Smothered” seems an inhospitable way to describe the charms of an etouffee, the Louisiana dish that begins with the aromatic trinity of onion, celery and green bell pepper, builds on a rich roux and serves up a seafood-studded blanket over rice.
This dish approximates that Cajun/Creole tradition but keeps things simple. It calls for less fat than usual and adds a bit of texture on top in the form of toasted bread crumbs. You can file this under “twofer”: If you chop the shrimp, the recipe could serve as a hot-dip appetizer as well as a quick main course.
Using bottled clam juice for the roux rather than fish stock will increase the amount of sodium significantly, so if you have 15 extra minutes, think about buying shell-on shrimp so you can first make a seafood stock of your own by boiling the shells with a little onion and whole black peppercorns.
Don’t be worried about submitting the shrimp to a blast of oven heat; blanketed by the sauce and moist vegetables, they’ll remain tender.
Serve over rice or with corn bread.
The recipe is adapted from “Cast-Iron Cooking: Recipes and Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Cast-Iron Cookware,” by Rachael Narins (Storey, 2016).
Baked crab and shrimp
2 ribs celery
1 medium onion
1 medium green bell pepper
2 large cloves garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Large pinch ground cayenne pepper
Large pinch chili powder
2 teaspoons flour
1 cup fish or shrimp stock (may substitute clam juice)
8 ounces (1 cup) lump crabmeat
12 ounces peeled, deveined large raw shrimp (21-25 count)
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 bunch scallions
1/2 cup plain fresh bread crumbs (may substitute plain panko)
1/2 lemon or lime
Cut the celery and onion into small dice. Stem and seed the green bell pepper, then cut the rest of it into small dice. Mince the garlic; gathering them all together on the cutting board is OK.
Melt the butter in a medium (10-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Stir in the celery, onion, garlic and green bell pepper; cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture has softened but not browned. (Adjust the heat as needed.) Sprinkle the pinches of cayenne pepper and chili powder over the mixture, and then the flour; cook for about 1 minute (so the flour loses its raw taste), stirring, until the vegetables are evenly coated.
Gradually pour in the fish or shrimp stock as you continue to stir; increase the heat to medium-high to bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened into a sauce that pulls cleanly away from the bottom of the skillet when you pull a spatula through.
Pick over the crab, discarding any bits of cartilage. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the crabmeat and shrimp to the skillet, along with the heavy cream (to taste). Stir as you cook for about 2 minutes or until the shrimp becomes just opaque and the crab is warmed through.
Meanwhile, position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler. Finely chop the white and light-green parts of the scallions, then combine them with the bread crumbs. Scatter this mixture over the contents of the skillet, then transfer the pan to the oven; broil for less than 1 minute, watching closely, just until the crumbs have lightly browned.
Squeeze the lemon or lime juice over the top. Serve right away.