Crawfish Etouffee: A potful of love, appreciation for PAO team
Christie Vanover, Chief, Command InformationWell, this is my last food column for the Fort Hood Sentinel.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Iíve enjoyed sharing my spice of Army life with all of you. Itís been fun to describe the military anecdotes from six duty stations that have influenced my dinner plate over the past 19 years.
But our military journey is coming to an end, and itís time to settle back home in Las Vegas.
I had a hard time coming up with this final recipe. How was I going to top my recipe for double espresso brownies with caramel macchiato mousse or my recipe for drunken shrimp?
Before I wrote ďSpice of Army Life,Ē Janna Zepp wrote a column about the hidden details about Texas called ďTex Messages.Ē Todayís recipe actually makes me think of Janna and the rest of the command information team who welcomed me on board in January 2011.
I was so humbled walking into
this job. How could I, a short redhead from Kentucky, manage all internal media for the Armyís largest post?
Fort Hood didnít just have the Department of Defenseís No. 1 newspaper; it was home to a television newscast, the Armyís only online radio station, a website and a social media presence.
As soon as I met the people behind the scenes, it didnít take long for me to realize how I was going to pull this off. My staff has years of military and professional civilian experience. They are creative, innovative and Iíd argue the best in their trade.
Working with this team has been an honor, and something Iíll remember always.
I do my best to let them know how I appreciate them through awards and attaboys, but they know the way I truly show my appreciation is through food.
After working 8-10 hour days, it should be easy to go home and forget about work. But I canít. I canít forget about the fact that the Sentinel staff will bust their butts to work around my schedule and meetings to get the paper done early.
I canít forget that the Fort Hood Radio team will produce promotions that stations in Americaís top markets couldnít match. And that Fort Hood TV will broadcast live shows viewed by thousands worldwide.
I canít forget that our webmaster will teach himself new code, so we can develop an app for the post.
This command information team loves Fort Hood Ė its Soldiers, its Families. They do all they can to keep the community informed.
So sure, I could go home and forget about work, but I canít forget about them. So in addition to awards and attaboys, I cook Ö and I cook a lot.
In fact, I probably bring at least one dish a week, many of which have been featured in the Sentinel.
The very first dish I brought in was crawfish etouffee. Iíd been the chief for about six weeks, and it was time for Mardi Gras. Growing up in Kentucky, I never experienced Fat Tuesday, but thanks to a two-year assignment in Mississippi, the love of the South is now in my soul.
The idea of eating crawfish took getting used to. I looked at them like I looked at roaches. Imagine my excitement when a steaming hot pot of these critters was dumped in front of me and a friend told me to twist the head off and suck out the brains.
But after a few triple dog dare yas and a few beers I got up the nerve. And ooo-eeee it was good. Now I look at crawfish as baby lobsters.
The secret to a good etouffee is a flavorful roux, a process where you cook fat and flour to make a thick brown paste. Some recipes call for butter and flour and others for oil and flour. Butter has its advantages because itís so flavorful, but the disadvantage is that it burns easily. So this recipe uses oil for the roux, and calls for butter at the end.
I remember the day I created this recipe, just for my staff, hoping that they would feel the love I put into it, hoping they would realize this recipe was my first sign of appreciation for the amazing jobs they perform for our Soldiers.
I carried the Crock-pot into III Corps Headquarters. The security guard wanted to inspect (taste test) my ďpackage.Ē Itís funny; they always want to do extra screening when Iím carrying food. I always invite them to PAO, but they never follow.
I plugged in the Crock-pot, and by lunch, everyone was digging in. When one co-worker said it brought him right back home, I knew that the love and appreciation was felt.
I continued cooking for my team every week for the past 18 months. I only hope that they know that I didnít just do it because of my love of food. I did it because of my admiration for them.
They made this assignment unbelievable. They are what make the Great Place great.
2 T. olive oil
12 oz. andouille sausage, diced
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup flour
1 cup celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 Ĺ cups onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
32 ozs. Seafood stock
32 ozs. Chicken stock
3 lbs. crawfish tails
ľ cup celery leaves, chopped
ľ cup parsley, chopped
ľ cup scallions chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. Creole Seasoning
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. Tabasco sauce
Ĺ cup flour
Ĺ cup water
Ĺ stick butter
Heat the olive oil in a very large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until brown. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium and add 1/3 cup oil and 1/3 cup flour to the pot. Whisk constantly for about five minutes until golden brown.
Add the celery, peppers, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about seven minutes.
Add about one cup of seafood stock to the pot to deglaze the pan. Then, add the rest of the seafood and chicken stock. Allow the stock to heat up for about five minutes.
Add the sausage, crawfish tails and herbs and spices, and bring it to a boil.
Whisk Ĺ cup flour with Ĺ cup water in a bowl and add to the pot to thicken.
Add the butter and simmer Ė the longer the better. Serve over rice.