How to Finish the Crawfish Etouffee

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,654
    Chef Chris Clime demonstrates how to finish the crawfish Etoufee.

    Chris Clime

    When you’ve mastered Caesar Salad by the age of nine, where else is there to go but into a culinary career? Christopher Clime followed his destiny, and he now finds himself perched at the top of one of the hottest restaurants in town. As Chef de Cuisine at Acadiana, the newest sister restaurant of the popular DC Coast, TenPenh, and Ceiba restaurants in Washington, Clime brings his version of Louisiana-inspired cuisine to the nation’s capital, which he calls home. And make no mistake: home is an important word to Christopher Clime. Clime had a colorful childhood in northern Virginia and in Puerto Rico, where his father was Commanding Officer at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. No matter where they lived, the Climes were always entertaining – their guests often high-ranking dignitaries – and for the Clime family, entertaining was always a family affair. Graduating at 17, Clime headed straight for Providence, Rhode Island, and Johnson & Wales University. Following his New England training, Clime stayed focused on the South. Post-graduation opportunities were waiting in Charleston, South Carolina, at the very exclusive five-diamond Woodlands Resort, where Clime served as chef de partie, a job he describes as “basically, a jack-of-all-trades.” His six years in Charleston gave him a solid grounding in the techniques, traditions, and flavors of southern cooking. It also brought him to the attention of a major corporation that brings him to Augusta, Georgia as a private chef for its executives and guests at The Masters Golf Tournament, an opportunity he still looks forward to every year, serving lavish banquets often based on Low Country cuisine. But while things were going well and he was receiving rave reviews in Charleston, Christopher Clime’s future suddenly had to be put on hold; his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had him return immediately home to Virgina. Needing a distraction at one point, he brought his application to Jeff Tunks at DC Coast, and was immediately hired as a tournant (“basically, another jack-of-all-trades position, a kind of substitute Sous Chef”), which suited Clime’s schedule well. After a year of constant dedication to his mother’s care, Clime was ready to take on more responsibility. Clime forged ahead at DC Coast and then at TenPenh, which provided a creative outlet for this young man during a trying time in his life. All the while, Tunks and his team were already planning the third jewel in their crown, and Clime was the logical candidate for Chef de Cuisine. Clime’s youth in Puerto Rico had imbued him with an inherent sense of Latin cuisine. Two years later, Tunks and his partners were set to open Acadiana, a fourth restaurant that would draw its inspiration from the rich culinary tradition of southern Louisiana. Tunks had spent four years in New Orleans, and knew just what he wanted the restaurant to be. He also knew just what he was looking for in a Chef de Cuisine, and again tapped Christopher Clime. Clime explains that authentic Louisiana cooking is what they serve at Acadiana, but with a contemporary, urban approach for their Washington clientele. “We peel the shrimp for you, but flavor it with the same delicate combination of Creole seasonings we found again and again in rural Louisiana – paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper.” Acadiana is enjoying unprecedented popularity, and already, in November 2006, Christopher Clime has been named one of Washington’s Top Ten Hottest Chefs by DC Style magazine. Has it gone to his head? Not at all: he’s found the ideal balance – his beloved southern cooking, right here at home.

    Hello, my name is Chris Clime. I am Chef at de Cuisine at Acadiana Restaurant, in Washington DC in the heart of the Penn Quarter and we are showing how to make Louisiana crawfish etouffee little bit Aunt Boo's style. The etouffee has finished simmering so now we are going to show how we do this here at Acadiana. So when you come and dine and well show you how we prepare the dish. This is what the etouffee looks like after weve cooked it for about 45 minutes, roughly 45, or maybe an hour. You see right here, very rich color, very dark. You dont want it to look red like as that tomato color into it. Its more as if its been roasting and you can see has a nice deep rich dark brown color, okay. Lot of the fat from the head is going to help too. Now that we have our fresh crawfish meat, so, Im going to go and switch. We are going to put this in the back here and then we will are go ahead and we are going to turn our Saute Pan on. Now I am waiting for that to get hot. I am going to show you we have got our fresh crawfish tail meat. We have got it, we have got as much fat from the heads as we can. We have butter, Creole seasoning a little bit of parsley and little bit of cayenne, we use for garnish. While weve been doing this, we have also steamed a little Mahatma long grain rice and the Mahatma Rice is the rice that we get from Abbeville Louisiana, its a Louisiana style rice. Standard cooking method 2:1 water to rice. Now our pan is hot, we are going to add our butter, like a knob of butter. You can see that as we start to saut, you hear that light applause thats what you want to hear. You can hear that noise there, thats great. We are going add our fresh crawfish tail meat. We are going to add a little bit of Creole seasoning. We are going add a touch of heat to it. A little bit of cayenne we have added already. We are going to add a little bit Tabasco too, just a touch. You dont necessarily have to do that, it all depends on how spicy you want it. We are going to go ahead. Saut the crawfish, you dont want to saut them too much. Can you see the nice colors coming out and thats what you want, but we dont want them to be hard because they are already cooked. So we are just kind of warming them through. Then we are going to go ahead and add a little bit fresh parsley and then we take a ladle and we are going to ladle some of the etouffee into here. So the etouffee. Okay the etouffee is here. Great, turn, heat down little bit. You dont want to add too much, you really want to have a nice as really etouffee means smothered, so we have a nice smothered crawfish here. Little bit more of the sauce and now we are ready to put it in the plate. We have got our rice ready, we are ready. Now, we are going to go ahead and we are going to plate the etouffee. Let me do at the restaurant -- its a little trick here. We have a little cup here, a little aluminum cup inverted with our fresh rice as you see. So, if you want impress some guests at the house, whatever you do in the family style. You do it inverted casserole, dish or anything. This is nice because its very portable. So you can put this over on top of the rice and then you can pour this over on top as we see, we just kind of nice. See how nice the consistency is? Really nice and rich, it really is just nice smothered. When you go and put that over, you get the perfect amount in here. Obviously I have had little bit of practice in this dish.

    So we have got the perfect amount here. I am going to put my hands in the side, put that over here. This is what we got. Now before we sell it, we are going to go ahead and take that aluminum off. So we have our Louisiana crawfish etouffee here, well take our little, this is our little trick here off, which protects the rice and so you still have the beautiful rice here. We will garnish with some fresh cayennes and little bit of parsley. And in here we have right now, we have finished. We have our Louisiana crawfish etouffee, Aunt Boo's style.

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