Outskirts of New Orleans

Eggplant Etouffee

Happy belated Mardi Gras!  I have never been to New Orleans, I had the chance once upon a life ago but passed.  Looking back on this I have major regrets seeing as how I was suppose to go the spring before Katrina hit, forever changing the landscape of the city.  One day I will correct this wrong and until then I will stuff myself with cajon/creole food whenever I get the chance.  I have already shared my love for eggplant and when eggplant is mixed which a spicy tomato sauce life is good!  The first time I had an etouffe it was crawfish style and I was hooked.  The best part about it was that the dish had crawfish two way: diced/sauted and heads-on/steamed.  I succeeded in grossing out a few of my dining companions when I started sucking the heads out but that part is so juicy and amazing I couldn’t resist!  This version doesn’t have any crawfish mustard which makes it perfect for Lent.  A quick note: I don’t like celery so I use celery salt so I can have the taste without the texture.  Feel free to replace the celery salt with about 1 cup of diced celery.

3 tbsp butter (unsalted soy if possible)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp celery salt
1 can diced unsalted tomatoes
1 bay leaf 
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
2 tablespoons Essence (Emeril brand if possible)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 pounds eggplant, in large cubes


1. Heat a large Dutch Oven over medium heat.  
2. Melt the butter and then whisk in the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium heat until a rich brown color, about 10minutes.
3. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery salt, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes to the pot and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tbsp of the Essence. Cook the tomatoes for 5 minutes and then stir in the vegetable stock.
4. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Season the eggplant with the remaining tablespoon of Essence and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the eggplant for an additional 30 minutes, or until tender.  Serve over steamed rice and/or with some jalapeño corn bread.

This meal is nice and easy and could easily be adapted to a slow cooker once the roux has been made.