I thought about going the classic etouffée route, but in the end this rich, dreamy pasta won out. I don't make decadent sauces like this too often, but it only seemed fitting for this holiday of excess. Most versions I found online used the classic Cajun trinity, heavy cream, and an entire loaf of Velveeta cheese. I kept the aromatics true to form, used half & half instead, and added tomato paste and white wine to round out the flavors.
I really loved this sauce (I mean, what's not to love?) and can't wait to try it out in other recipes. I think it would be equally good with shrimp, especially if you can't find crawfish, and even blackened chicken. It's definitely got plenty of room to wiggle.
Creamy Crawfish Pasta
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 green bell pepper, diced small
1 onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pound frozen cooked crawfish tails, thawed
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
16 ounces penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
Chopped parsley, for serving
In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onions, and celery, and sauté until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the flour until the vegetables are well-coated and no white clumps remain. Stir in the tomato paste until completely combined.
Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and crawfish to the Dutch oven; let the wine simmer out for a couple of minutes. Pour in the heavy cream. Add the creole seasoning, a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground pepper. Cook the sauce at a gentle boil until it is thickened and coats the back of the spoon, about 5 - 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Fold the cooked penne into the crawfish sauce. Stir in a handful of chopped parsley. Serve the crawfish pasta with additional red pepper flakes, hot sauce, freshly grated Parmesan, and slices of toasted garlic bread.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)