Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Me gotta go float da pirogue down da bayou...

About five years ago, Dino contacted the Food department at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and nominated me for their weekly column on amateur chefs.  They bit, and Deborah Geering wrote a great story about me and featured a recipe for Shrimp Creole -- a New Orleans favorite.

Ironically, I've probably only prepared the dish once since the article appeared.  So it was WAY past time to make it again when I needed something tasty (but easy) to welcome my longtime friend Angie, who was visiting from Memphis this week for a meeting of cardiologists.  Yesterday was definitely a poor energy day, as my blood counts are at their usual low a week after chemo.  I needed something full of flavor but not intense to prepare.

Instead of using shrimp or fish stock, I substituted some reduced chicken stock from the giant batch I made on Sunday.  (It's become tradition to make stock every week so that we can have soup or other healthy meals, and the puppies get the chicken and carrots from the pot).

So here goes.  My take on Shrimp Creole.

2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery
3/4 cup peppers (I prefer red, yellow or orange peppers to green, and keep a freezer full of the frozen stuff year round so I'm never without)
3 cloves garlic
Pinch red pepper flakes
Creole seasoning -- Tony Chachere's is my favorite
2 heaping T flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine
1 28 oz peeled tomatoes, seeds removed and diced small
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T (or more) pepper sauce -- Tabasco, Frank's, etc.
2 cups stock (chicken's okay -- seafood is probably better)
1 lb (or more) peeled and deveined shrimp.
1 bay leaf
2 T fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

1.  Saute the onions in the olive oil and melted butter in a large dutch over (my favorite cooking vessel of all time).  About five minutes in, add the celery and peppers, plus salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, about another 5 minutes.

2.  Add in chopped garlic, bay leaf and creole seasoning, red pepper flakes, hot sauce and Worcestershire.  Saute 1 minute to soften the garlic and bloom the spices.

3.  Stir in the flour (you're making a thin roux) and cook another 5 minutes or so on medium heat to get rid of the raw flour taste.

4.  Stir in the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot.

5.  Add the tomatoes (and juice from the can) and stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce and let simmer.  At least 30 minutes, but longer if you have time.

6.  About 5 minutes before you're ready to serve, drop in the shrimp and cook until done (which is faster that you'd expect).  You can add some zip by pre-seasoning the shrimp with a little Creole seasoning or cayenne pepper 30 minutes before you plan to add them to the stew.  Also add the parsley.

7.  Serve over brown rice (for the nutritional boost) with warm fresh bread.  Give guests the option of added Creole seasoning or pepper sauce if they want more heat.

And voila.  An easy and zesty Louisiana meal.

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