This rich and filling Louisiana beef étouffée recipe is a heirloom to CNN anchor Don Lemon

Yes, it’s family. A little teasing can also be part of the tradition.

“She would annoy me if I didn’t do it right,” says Lem’s mother, Katherine, of learning the beef étouffée recipe from her mother.

“Oh, really? I wonder who else does that,” joked Lemon, host of CNN’s primetime weekday show Don Lemon Tonight.

The hearty dish has become a staple of their family’s table during the holidays – including Christmas and Easter – and takes on a slightly different flavor depending on who prepares it. The mushroom soup thickens, the tomato soup thickens, and Lemon likes to add more shrimp than necessary to make sure everyone gets a full plate.

“It totally tastes like home,” says Lemon, a Louisiana native. “Here’s a recipe that will use some meat on your bones and give you some loot.”

Whether you use butter or margarine, homemade roux or a pre-mix, Lemon says making étouffée is more about being together and sharing a hot, savory meal than being precise. .

In fact, according to Lemon, you don’t need to use any shrimp at all! He orders his oxtails from Louisiana and freezes them, but if you want, you can exchange them for lobster, shrimp, or even crab.

It takes some time to prepare, but étouffée is one of those simple dishes to cook in the Louisiana tradition of Lemon. Most importantly, it’s filling, rich and flavorful.

A simple dish that is easy to make but full of flavor.

Don Lemon’s Crawfish Etouffee

This formula works on perception rather than measurement.

Make 4 servings


  • 1 pound (at least) cowfish tail
  • Fat and juice from beef fish
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter
  • 1 pack Cajun étouffée mixed
  • Cream of Celery Soup (1-2 tablespoons per pound of beef)
  • Shrimp cream (1-2 tablespoons per pound of beef)
  • Tomato soup (1-2 tablespoons per pound of beef)
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup (1-2 tablespoons per pound of beef)
  • Sprinkle with creole seasoning, preferably Tony Chachere’s
  • 1 small green onion, finely chopped tops
This recipe is a favorite in the state of Louisiana, home of Lemon.


1. Open the tail of the beef, remember to drain the fat and juice into a bowl or plate.

2. Melt the margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Then add the whole packet of étouffée mixture.

3. Put the desired amount of celery cream, seafood cream, tomato soup and mushroom soup into the pot as desired.

4. Put the beef, fat and juice in the pot, stir well and break the fish tail.

5. Add some seafood stock and sprinkle with creole seasoning in the main pot.

6. Bring to a boil, stirring often.

7. When the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.

8. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

9. Make sure seafood is thoroughly cooked to 145 degrees, then sprinkle scallions on top and serve with rice.

Stay tuned for the next edition of this series, where the CNN anchor reveals cooking tips and personal stories from the kitchen.


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