Shrimp Étouffée Goes Tex-Mex at Sandy Witch

The Swamp Thing stuffs and smothers a burrito with shrimp étouffée.

By Katharine Shilcutt March 21, 2014

Don't let the name fool you: Sandy Witch Sandwich Company has been experimenting with a lot more than just simple sandwiches lately. In recent weeks, I've indulged in a chicken-fried steak sandwich topped with buttermilk gravy and pickled okra, devoured a Frito pie topped with beer queso and a fried egg, and marveled at photos of the Elvis on Oxy burger topped with peanut butter, bacon jam, and pimento cheese on Sandy Witch's Instagram account.

Sandy Witch Sandwich Co.
1010 Banks (inside Grand Prize Bar)

The newest creation at Sandy Witch is called the Swamp Thing, which marries a burrito ahogado—a "drowned" burrito typically stuffed with rice and beef or chicken and covered with chili and cheese—with a Cajun classic: shrimp étouffée.

Ironically, the word étouffée means stuffed, though étouffée as it's typically served is just a seafood gravy ladled over rice, not stuffed with or into anything at all. Calleo takes the dish's name literally by stuffing a burrito with rice and étouffée, then pouring more of the shrimp étouffée gravy on top. 

Though Calleo says he'd never made an étouffée before experimenting with the batch he created on Wednesday, he lucked into getting a sack of free shrimp shells from Airline Seafood when he went to purchase his shrimp. The shells made for an excellent stock, which Calleo and sous chef Vanessa Campbell used as a base for a velvety gravy peppered with Tabasco and studded with fat, sweet Gulf Shrimp.

The Swamp Thing from start to finish.

I struggled to cut my Swamp Thing into neat pieces while perched at one of the rickety tables inside Grand Prize Bar, where Sandy Witch Sandwich Company operates daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., but the mess was half the fun. This is pub grub, after all—though more in the vein of the thoughtful pub grub at Petrol Station as opposed to the pizza rolls and wings often found elsewhere.

That's not to say you can't get wings at Sandy Witch too, however. Calleo brought out a basket of his new Crow's Wings to sample while I tried to finish my Swamp Thing (I eventually had to admit defeat). Brined for 24 hours then tossed with a homemade whisky-buffalo glaze, the wings taste like the adult version of the ones you sucked clean by the dozen in college, polished off with a pitcher of Miller Lite. And therein lies the appeal of Sandy Witch: thoughtful, creative dishes that still let you indulge your childish side. Well, that and the fact that you can get a burrito stuffed with shrimp étouffée at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday night.


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