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Classic Shrimp Creole

Classic Shrimp Creole with a crisp chilled salad and crunchy French bread is one of my favorite 'company' dinners. With a little advanced prep, you can have everything nearly ready before your guests arrive. Make the roux before your guests arrive and then let the sauce simmer (without the shrimp) for about 45 minutes.

If you have a true simmer going, you only need to stir the sauce a couple of times so you can safely take a few minutes to greet your guests as they arrive. Just remember to return to the sauce a couple of times for a quick stir.

Cook the rice about 30 minutes before you plan to eat. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and can sit, covered for another 5 – 10 minutes. While the rice is steaming, dress the salad and heat the bread. As soon as you are ready to eat, add the shrimp to the sauce, let it simmer until it turns pink (3 – 5 minutes) and then simply season the sauce and serve over the rice!

Although this recipe uses homemade seafood stock, you can substitute good quality low –sodium canned or boxed stock if you wish. Follow the links below for my homemade Shrimp Stock Recipe and for additional information on making a roux.

Serves 4 - 6

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups crushed tomatoes with juice*
2 cups shrimp or seafood stock
2 pounds raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, with heads removed
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
4 – 6 cups steamed rice

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet** over medium heat. When hot, slowly stir in the flour. Continue stirring and cooking the flour/oil mixture until it begins to turn a rich brown (about 35 – 45 minutes). Do not stop stirring the roux until it reaches the desired color.***

Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and stir to combine. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes and their juice, the stock, the bay leaves, and the sprigs of thyme.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the shrimp and cook until they are pink, about 3 – 5 minutes. Remove the bay laves and the sprigs of thyme. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.

Serve in wide heated soup plates over a mound of steamed rice. Sprinkle with minced fresh parsley.


Cook's Notes:

*If you can't find canned crushed tomatoes simply put chopped tomatoes in a food processor or blender and process for a couple of whorls.

**If using a cast iron skillet or pan for making the roux, transfer to a heavy, non-reactive pan, such as stainless steel or enamel coated cast iron, before adding the tomatoes.

***Once the roux reaches the desired color, you can remove it from the heat and stir in the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Continue stirring for 5 – 10 minutes or until the darkening stops. If you aren't going to use the roux within 60 – 90 minutes then let it cool, then cover and refrigerate. To use, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before adding to an unheated pan. Heat the roux over low heat, stirring frequently, until the roux is hot. Return to recipe directions.

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