Jennifer Pensoneau spent Sundays off from culinary school at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., cooking in the home kitchens of Cajun friends. Cook up crawdads in her flavorful étouffée.

Serves | 10 |

  • 2 cups plus 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large green bell peppers, seeded and cut in ¼ inch dice
  • 3 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut in ¼-inch dice
  • 3 to 4 large cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 2 medium yellow or white onions, cut in ¼-inch dice
  • 10 canned Roma tomatoes plus ¼ to ½ cup juice
  • 3 lbs frozen crawfish tails and meat
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil, coarse cut
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 3 Tbsp dried parsley leaves
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 large dried bay leaves
  • 1½ Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • 5 to 6 quarts water
  • 10 cups cooked basmati or long-grain rice

| Preparation | Make a blond roux a day ahead of time by melting 2 cups butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly, until smooth. Continue stirring regularly until roux begins to smell nutty and turns the color of light oak, about 20 minutes. Don't allow to burn. Refrigerate overnight.

The following day, melt remaining butter in a 5-quart soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions and sauté 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and cook vegetables an additional 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and soft but not mushy. Raise heat to medium, add cold roux, mix well and cook 5 minutes. Coarsely break tomatoes, then add to the pot with juice. Add dried seasonings and mix well. Add frozen crawfish meat and cook just until they break apart. The crawfish will still be partially frozen. Add water, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook 30 to 45 minutes.

| To Serve | Ladle over cooked rice.