Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shrimp Creole

I first visited New Orleans over twenty years ago, and I fell in love with the place.  I loved the music, the easy-going attitude of the people, but most of all, I loved the food. 

Shrimp Creole happens to be the first dish I tried on my first day in NOLA, and I was mad for it.  I always make sure to get a dish or two of it every time I go back to the Big Easy.  But, strangely enough,  I’d never attempted to make it myself.  I decided to remedy that recently. 

This recipe is a modification of a version from one of the old 1950s Culinary Arts cookbooks that I collect.  (They’re where a lot of the retro art on this blog comes from)  

I snooped around the internet a little as well, then finally just modified to taste.  Be forewarned, this is a pretty spicy version.  Back off on the hot stuff if your palate is a bit more delicate.

Shrimp Creole

2 lbs Fresh Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Vegetable or Olive Oil
1 Onion, Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Stalks Celery, Chopped
1 Large Green Pepper, Chopped
1 28 oz Can Chopped or Ground Tomatoes
1 6 oz Can Tomato Paste
2 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning (such as Tony Chachere’s)
2 Cups Shrimp Stock (recipe here)
2/3 Cup White Wine
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Paprika
2 Tablespoons Tabasco Sauce
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Teaspoon Dry Thyme
Salt to taste
Green Onions, Chopped

Sauté onions in the butter and oil until they begin to brown.  Add celery, green pepper, garlic and Creole seasoning. Cook a few minutes more. 

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook a few minutes more.  

Add white wine, cook for two minutes.  Add shrimp stock, cayenne and black peppers, paprika and dry thyme.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. 

After it has cooked for 30-40 minutes, add the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces and salt to taste. 

Most Shrimp Creole recipes I’ve encountered tell you add your raw shrimp to the Creole at this point and cook until done.  I’ve decided to sauté my shrimp separately, then add them to the dish right before I serve it.  

The reason is, I find it difficult to control the cooking of the shrimp if I just add them to the Creole.  The chance of overcooking them until they are rubbery, or undercooking them, is too great.  So I just sauté the little shrimpies in a separate skillet with a bit of butter and oil until they are pink, then add them to the Creole, stir and serve. 

Add some of the chopped green onions over the top and you’re ready to serve.

Here we've served it over some basic white rice.  A Creole rice would also be appropriate.  

Until Next time,

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Shrimp Stock


2 Oz Shrimp Shells (from 2 lbs shrimp)
1 Onion
2 Stalks Celery
1 Lemon, Sliced
3 Garlic Cloves
3 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
6 Black Peppercorns

If you need chicken or beef stock, you need look no further than your grocer’s shelf.  But try finding a seafood stock there?  I can’t   But the good news is, seafood stocks are quite simple and quick to make at home, particularly this shrimp stock, which is an essential ingredient in dishes like my Shrimp Creole, but it will also sing in a bisque, chowder, stew or even risotto.   

When you buy shrimp, it’s always cheaper to get shell/tail on.  You can peel ‘em yourself and then use the shells for this stock.  If you don’t have a use for it right away, it freezes well. 

 Shrimp Stock

Bring about two quarts of water to a boil, toss all the ingredients into the pot...

...and reduce heat to simmering boil.  Boil for 30 minutes.  Strain the liquid and you’re done.  Viola, shrimp stock.  Couldn’t be simpler.