Sauce Nantua

Although the ingredients make it sound like something from Louisiana, sauce Nantua is actually a classical French sauce, named for the eastern French town of the same name. I first ran into sauce Nantua at Christian’s Restaurant, which served it over quenelles of fish. It can be used with all sorts of things, and ought to be more often. Crab cakes come to mind. By the way, the name is pronounced “nan-TWA.”

  • 2 lbs. whole boiled crawfish
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Rinse the crawfish in cold water. Peel them, reserving all the shells. Set aside about 1/2 cup of tail meat. Chop the rest of the tails finely in a food processor.

2. Crush the crawfish shells with a meat mallet. Put the crawfish shells, garlic cloves, thyme and bay leaf into a quart of cold water in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, and reduce the stock down to about one cup.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onions, carrot, and parsley until soft. Add the tomato puree and cook another minute or so. Then add the wine, bring to a boil, and reduce until most of the liquid is gone.

4. Add the chopped crawfish tails to the pan. Add the brandy, bring to a boil, and carefully flame it (if you like). Add one cup of the crawfish stock to the pan and bring to a light boil.

6. Make a blond roux with the butter and flour. Whisk into the sauce until completely blended. Add the cream, salt, and cayenne, adjusting the latter two to taste. Bring to a simmer, then serve. Garnish with the reserved whole tails.

Makes about a cup and a half of sauce.

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