It’s a challenge to be a shellfish lover living in the Midwest, where finding good-quality and reasonably-priced seafood at the local markets is not common. When I can find a deal on wild caught shrimp or lobster, I will occasionally purchase. So, when I have some on hand, I want to make it somewhat special and appreciate it. This week, I spotted some frozen Gulf shrimp, and I remembered a cookbook on my bookshelf that contained a recipe for Louisiana Étouffée, the classic dish of smothered shellfish served over rice.
I flipped open the pages to Emeril Lagasse’s 1996 book titled “Louisiana Real and Rustic”. I found the recipe and began a short list of ingredients to get ready for a meatless Friday dinner. With a little further reading and thought, I decided to make a couple of modifications to it. First, I made a quick shrimp stock from the shrimp shells, rather than using plain water as the original recipe called for. I wanted to address the fact that I am often confined to using frozen shrimp from a chain store and wanted to try to get as much flavor out of those shrimp as I could. Second, I added a teaspoon of paprika to enhance the sauce a bit and removed ½ teaspoon of salt. Other than that, I have left this recipe alone. It yields a lot of flavor with very simple ingredients. To me, that is exactly what home cooking is all about. Bon Temps!
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green bell pepper
2-3 tsp chopped garlic
6 ounces unsalted butter
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 cups shrimp stock* or plain water
6 Tbsp. chopped parsley
½ cup chopped green onions
Chop the “trinity” of celery, onions, and green bell pepper.
Chop the garlic.
Combine the flour, salt, cayenne, and paprika in a bowl.
Chop the parsley and green onions.
Measure out the butter.
(I lay everything on a sheet pan next to the stove in order of addition):
Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat.
Add the “trinity” of celery, onions, and bell pepper. Saute on medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until tender.
Add the garlic, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.
Add the shrimp. Cook until pink, about 4-5 minutes.
Combine and whisk the stock/water with the flour/salt and cayenne mixture, then add to the skillet. The sauce will start to thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
Taste the sauce. Adjust seasonings to your liking.
Add the parsley and green onions. Cook another 1-2 minutes.
Serve over rice.
Notes and References
*About the stock: I purchased Shell-On Shrimp. I made a simple stock ahead of time by peeling and deveining them and returning them to the refrigerator. The shells were combined with 1.5 quarts of water, ¾ tsp of salt, a pinch of black pepper, 1 bay leaf, ¼ cup rough chopped onion, and ¼ cup rough chopped celery. The pot was simmered for about 45 minutes and the stock strained. Extra stock can be frozen for later use.
Recipe adapted from Louisiana Real and Rustic, by Emeril Lagasse, William Morrow Publishers, New York, 1996