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Tag: creole

Shrimp Créole–It’s Not Just For Christmas

by on Dec.27, 2013, under Recipes and Food

Christmas dinner at Chez Thompson isn’t always traditional.  We like to cook, and roasting turkeys or rib roasts just doesn’t present much of a challenge any more.  So, you’re likely to find more complex recipes featured on our holiday table.  Paellas are good, as is bouillabaisse, but one of our favorites is Shrimp à la Créole.

A good Shrimp Créole, as it’s translated into Inglés, depends on the quality of the ingredients.  Of course, Florida shrimp are the best and you can find them almost year-round, so that’s not a problem.  But don’t cut corners with the single most-important ingredient–the tomatoes.  Fresh ripe heirloom Créole tomatoes make the very best Creole, but they’re not available canned and can even be hard to find outside Louisiana.  In warm months, fresh tomatoes from Ruskin, south of Tampa, work well, but when it’s cold you’ll have to rely on canned product.  Don’t be fooled by the propaganda you hear on the television from large factory canners.  Accept only canned tomatoes that come directly from San Marzano, Italy or are labeled “San Marzano style”.  These flavorful plum tomatoes are simply the best, and luckily there are now some American farmers growing them.

Shrimp sauce piquanté was the original name for shrimp créole and my version is spicy, with just a hint of cloves and allspice, as the name implies.  None of that bland tomato-soup-like stuff that’s served in second-rate eateries for me.  This version will warm you from the inside out!

Shrimp Créole

2/3-cup canola oil

1/2-cup flour

1-3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

1/3 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup copped green pepper

4 tsp. minced garlic

3 tsp. minced parsley

1 28-ounce can/box crushed San Marzano tomatoes

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 tbs. minced chives

4 tbs. dry red wine

4 whole bay leaves, crushed*

6 whole allspice*

2 whole cloves*

2 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

4 tsp. lemon juice

2 cups water

2-pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
There’s an old expression made by Cajun cooks:  “First, make a roux”.   Based on a misconception that a roux is difficult, that very statement turns many folks away from making this recipe at home.  In fact, in Louisiana you can actually buy a jar of ready-made roux.  But really, folks–it ain’t rocket science.  Just keep stirring and be sure not to burn the flour.

In a heavy 6 to 8-quart pot, heat the oil and gradually add the flour, stirring constantly.  Cook the mixture over medium heat and stir until the medium brown roux is formed.  It should be the color of peanut butter.  Remove the roux from the heat and add the fresh vegetables and parsley.  Mix well, and then return to low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the vegetables begin to brown.  Mix in the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, and then add the chives, wine, seasonings, and lemon juice.

*Wrap the bay leaves, cloves and allspice together in a packet of cheesecloth before adding to the sauce.  This eliminates crunchy surprises at the dinner table.

Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a low boil.  Stir in the water and bring back to a boil.  Then, reduce heat to a simmer for 45 minutes.  About 10 minutes before dinner, bring the sauce back to a boil, add the shrimp and simmer until ready to serve.  Serve over parboiled/converted rice.  (Feeds 4)

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