Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Conque Étouffée Omelette

     A Louisiana Style Omelette Smothered With A Rich Conch Sauce!  
     Étouffée basically translates to "smothered with sauce."  Crawfish Étouffée is the most famous of this style of entrée and it is always served over rice.  There are exceptions to the Étouffée over rice rule, like when a guest craves Étouffée for brunch.  For brunch, Étouffée can be served over biscuits, home fries or even an omelette, as long as everything is smothered with sauce.  Since an omelette can only soak up a portion of the sauce, offering biscuits, cornbread or toast as "gravy mops" is necessary.  Of course rice can be served with the omelette too, but using gravy mops to sop up every last bit of Étouffée on a plate is one of life's simple pleasures!
     I have never heard of any Louisiana chef making Étouffée with Conch or a black roux, but more than likely this has already been done many times.  Cajuns have a long history of culinary adaption and incorporating local ingredients into their cuisine.  Since Conch meat requires a long simmering time to become tender, it is a good choice for making Étouffée, because this sauce also requires plenty of simmering time.   
     Black roux is is what gives today's Étouffée its dark color.  The basic rule for roux in Cajun cuisine is, dark color roux for light color meat and light color roux for dark color meat.  Conch meat ranges from white to a light orangish tan color, so it qualifies for a sauce made with dark roux.  Conch also has a rich shellfish flavor, so a dark brown roux or black roux is a good choice.       
     One thing to keep in mind when making dark roux, is that the darker that the flour is cooked, the less thickening power it will have.  The flour in a white roux can absorb much more liquid than the flour in a dark roux.  If a large batch of today's black étouffée sauce is needed for guests, then it may be necessary to make a little more black roux than what the expanded recipe calls for.
     Black Roux is rich tasting and it has a burnt popcorn aroma.  The strong black roux flavor does mellow after the sauce simmers over a period of time.  For some odd reason, black roux accents the flavor of conch in a nice way.  For those who associate rich flavors with dark colors, today's Conch Étouffée will not disappoint!  Those who like food smothered with sauce are in luck today too!
     Conque Étouffée Sauce: 
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (1 generous portion.)  
     Conch meat is usually sold shelled, poached and frozen.  Fresh conch meat and fresh frozen conch meat are also available.  The average size of a frozen conch is about 3 to 5 ounces.  One conch is about enough for one portion of sauce.    
     *Prepare all of the ingredients before starting to make the roux!       
     Step 1:  Select 1 shelled conch that weighs about 4 ounces.     
     Cut 4 small thin slices of conch and keep them chilled.  (About 1/8" thick slices.  The conch slices will be used as a garnish.)
     Cut the rest of the conch into 1/4" thick slices.
     Tenderize the conch slices with a meat mallet. 
     Finely chop the conch meat and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Finely chop these vegetables:
     - 1/2 cup of onion.
     - 1/4 cup of mixed green bell pepper and red bell pepper.
     - 1/4 cup of celery.
     - 2 green onions.
     Place the minced vegetables in a bowl. 
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Set the bowl aside.
     Step 3:  *The roux has to constantly stirred or it will scorch!  Wear protective gloves, because hot roux can cause severe burns.
     Heat 2 ounces of unsalted butter in a sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should not be thick or caky.  It should look shiny and have a peanut butter texture.)
     Constantly stir with a whisk till the roux becomes darker than chocolate brown and it looks almost black.  
     Step 4:  *Use caution, because steam will be produced in this step!  Wear protective gloves!
     When the roux becomes a deep dark brownish black color, immediately add the reserved bowl of chopped vegetables.
     *The hot roux will instantly cook the vegetables and garlic in just a few seconds.
     Wait till the steam dissipates.
     Briefly stir the black roux and vegetables till combined.
     Step 5:  Add 1 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 2 cups of shrimp stock (or fumet).
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of canned crushed tomato.
     Add the reserved prepared conch meat.
     Stir the sauce as it comes to a boil.
     *The sauce will be a very thin consistency at this point. 
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low/very low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Step 7:  Add 1 or 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper. 
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Stir the sauce.
     Step 8:  Gently simmer the sauce for 1 hour.  Add broth if the sauce becomes thick.
     Step 9:  After 1 hour, allow the sauce to simmer and reduce till it is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Keep the Conch Étouffée Sauce warm over very low heat or reheat the sauce to order.

     Buttered Conch Garnish:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Conch will be tender if it is cooked for a very short time or it will be tender after simmering for an extended amount of time.  A few thin slices of conch that are briefly sautéed in butter are used to garnish the omelette.  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the reserved conch slices.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Gently sauté till the conch is fully cooked and it is still tender.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the pan of buttered sliced conch warm on a stove top.

     Conque Étouffée Omelette:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     No starch accompanies the omelette in the photos examples.  Breakfast Potatoes or Plain Long Grain White Rice should be offered with this saucy omelette. 
     Biscuits, French bread or Corn bread also should be served on the side with this omelette.  The bread can be used as a gravy mop to sop up the extra sauce!  
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.  (Use 3 eggs for a large omelette.)
     Add 1 pinch of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 teaspoons of water.
     Whisk the egg mixture till it starts to foam.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the egg mixture.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette.
     Sauté till the bottom half of the omelette is firm.
     Step 3:  Flip the omelette.
     Sauté till the omelette is fully cooked.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Triple fold the omelette and place it on the center of a plate.
     Step 5:  Pour a generous portion of the Conque Étouffée Sauce over part of the omelette and onto the plate.  (About 1 1/3 cups to 1 1/2 cups is plenty.  Étouffée means to smother with sauce!)
     Step 6:  Garnish the omelette with the reserved Buttered Conch Slices.
     Garnish the omelette with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve with plain white rice or breakfast potatoes and a choice of bread on the side.

     Hoo Dawgy!  There is no shortage of good flavor in this Louisiana style brunch entrée!  

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