Friday, December 25, 2009

Shrimp creole

Shrimp creole is similar to shrimp and grits, except it's served over rice instead of grits. Again, try to use fresh (never frozen) shrimp. The taste and texture difference is really worth the extra money.

I made this last at my sister's place along the Gulf Coast, where I could get fresh-out-of-the-Gulf shrimp. I started with two pounds of enormous shrimp. I peeled all the shrimp and put the heads and shells in a pan of water to make shrimp stock. Whole shrimp are surprisingly easy to peel; the head snaps right off, the legs come off with the tail, and then all you have to do is run your thumb up under what's left of the shell and pop it off.

I chopped up all of my sister’s ripe tomatoes--about 27, seriously, her garden was a little out of control at the time--and started by sweating out chopped onion, garlic, celery, green pepper, and a little jalapeno in butter. I added a couple smoked alligator and pork sausages, then reduced that in a little white wine. I added the tomatoes, tomato paste, and shrimp stock, along with a healthy dose of salt (to help the tomatoes break down) and seasonings--bay leaves, paprika, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, basil, parsley, and thyme. At the last minute I threw in the shrimp and a handful of chopped okra.

Serve hot, over rice, with Abita beer. Sit in the backyard and watch the fireflies.

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