Shrimp à la Creole

A classic dish of wild-caught Gulf shrimp with lots of fresh celery, onions, garlic and green peppers in a base of tomatoes, shrimp stock, fresh thyme, parsley and oregano, cayenne, black pepper and sea salt..

Shrimp à la Creole (adapted from a recipe at

2 pounds fresh shrimp (save shells to make shrimp stock)
2 tablespoons pastured butter
1 tablespoon bacon grease
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons creole seasoning
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-1/2 cups very ripe fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups shrimp stock
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 fresh bay leaves
cayenne to taste
sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper
1 bunch fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons Tabasco
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup green onions, green tops thinly sliced, white part sliced into 1/4″ thickness
1/8 cup flat leaf parsley, minced

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan with the bacon grease over medium high heat.  When the butter begins to froth, add 1/2 cup of the onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown.  Add the remaining onions, celery, and bell pepper, reduce the heat to medium and season with 1 tbsp creole seasoning and a healthy pinch of salt.  Sweat the vegetables until soft.

Add the tomato paste mixing well, and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste begins to brown, then add the fresh tomatoes and another healthy pinch of sea salt (this will help the tomatoes break down).  Stir well.

When the tomatoes start to break down into liquid add the white wine and bring to a low boil.  Add the shrimp stock, remaining creole seasoning, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne (to taste), oregano and thyme.  Simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Add the hot sauce and Worcestershire and season to taste with sea salt.

Reduce the heat to low and add the shrimp, simmering until just cooked through.

Serve with boiled rice and garnish with the remaining green onions and parsley.

Our Gulf friends are still struggling to recover from last summer’s devastating oil spill.  Please support them at every opportunity!

Pan-Roasted Sirloin with Mushrooms, Pearl Onions, Fresh Thyme and Cognac Demi-Glace

CLA-rich, grass-fed sirloin steaks are rubbed with kosher salt, then loosely wrapped and refrigerated overnight.  The steaks are wiped clean and seared in an iron skillet over high heat until nicely browned, then finished to medium-rare in a 550 degree oven.  Meanwhile, fingerling potatoes, brown mushrooms, pearl onions and elephant garlic are sauteed stove-top.

While the steaks rest, the roasting pan is deglazed with cognac and the brown bits scraped loose with a wooden spoon.  The finished vegetables are added to the pan with demi-glace, fresh thyme and smoked black pepper and heated through.  A knob of cold, pasture butter is whisked in just before serving..

Pan-Roasted Sirloin w/ Mushrooms, Pearl Onions, Fresh Thyme & Cognac Demi-Glace

One of the most flavorful cuts of beef, the sirloin is a steak cut from the rear back portion of the animal, continuing off the short loin from which T-bone, porterhouse, and club steaks are cut.

The sirloin is actually divided into several types of steak, with the top sirloin generally being the most prized.  The bottom sirloin is less tender, much larger, and is typically what is offered when one just buys sirloin steaks instead of steaks specifically marked top sirloin.

French Onion Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano-Crusted Sourdough Croutons

Yellow onions and leeks are mandoline-sliced and browned in a little butter with fresh thyme, bay and cracked allspice, then simmered in equal parts homemade chicken and beef bone broth, a little raw cider vinegar, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.  Served with Parmigiano-Reggiano-crusted sourdough croutons..

French Onion Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano-Crusted Sourdough Croutons

3 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
1 medium leek, trimmed and rinsed free of dirt and sand
1-1/2 tablespoons cultured/pastured butter
1 teaspoon freshly-cracked allspice
2 small bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh thyme, stripped
3 cups homemade beef stock or broth
3 cups homemade chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

2 slices sourdough boule, torn into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 tablespoons cultured/pastured butter
2 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

Combine beef and chicken broth in a heavy pot and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer until reduced in volume by about 25%.  Add vinegar, reduce heat to medium-low and keep hot.

Meanwhile, slice onions and leeks to about 1/8-inch thickness (a mandoline makes this easy) and add to a hot, dry skillet.  Stir often until onions begin to brown, then add butter, bay, allspice and thyme and continue to cook until onions are well browned, about 10-15 minutes.

Pour onion mixture into reduced stock and stir to combine.  Allow to simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, saute torn sourdough in butter until golden brown on all sides.  Sprinkle croutons with Parmigiano-Reggiano and allow to melt and get a little crisp.  Remove from heat.

Ladle hot soup into bowls, dress with croutons and serve immediately.

Pan-Seared Elk Medallions with Herb-Infused, Crushed Chipotle Demi-Glace

The elk is one of the largest species of deer in the world and one of the largest mammals in North America. Ranging in forest and forest-edge habitat, elk are ruminants, feeding on grasses, bark, forbs and tree sprouts.  High in protein and low in fat, this animal was wild-harvested deep in the Texas hill country..

Pan-Seared Elk Medallions with Herb-Infused, Crushed Chipotle Demi-Glace

Allow one 5-7oz portion per person, depending on accompaniments

Medallions of wild elk loin, cut about 1 inch-thick
coarse sea salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of tallow

Season elk medallions on all sides with salt and pepper, wrap loosely in butchers’ paper and refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight.
Remove from refrigerator, blot dry and allow to stand 30 minutes at room temperature. Pan-sear with a little tallow or grill over a wood fire until just medium-rare, then allow to rest 10 minutes before serving over chipotle demi-glace.

Crushed Chipotle Demi-Glace, Home Version (adapted from Saveur)

1/4 lb. uncured bacon, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sprouted wheat, spelt or rye flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-1/2 quarts beef or game stock, divided
1/4 cup good sherry (not cooking wine)
10 sprigs fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 leaves fresh sage
2 chiles chipotle en adobo, crushed
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Render bacon in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Add onions and carrots and cook until somewhat softened, about 8 minutes. Use a sifter to sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook another 10 minutes. Add sherry, herbs and 8 cups of stock and simmer uncovered until reduced in volume by three-quarters, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Strain sauce, discarding solids. Return to pan with chiles chipotle en adobo and remaining stock and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 hours. Demi-glace may be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday!

Shrimp and Grits

Gigantic gulf shrimp are sautéed in sweet butter with fresh lemon, celery, tomatoes, white wine and parsley and served over stone-ground yellow grits with fresh thyme, shrimp stock, garlic and cream..

Shrimp and Grits

Adapted from recipes by Chef Chris Hastings, Coastal Living

For the Grits

1/2 cup stone-ground yellow grits
1 tablespoon cultured butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup fresh cream
1/2 cup shrimp stock (substitute fish fumét or vegetable stock)
1/2 cup water
1 clove garlic, slivered
1 tablespoon shallot, diced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add thyme, garlic and shallots and sauté until soft and fragrant.  Whisk in broth and cream, reduce heat and cook until done, adding water as you go, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.

For the Shrimp

4 very fresh jumbo Gulf shrimp, peeled, de-veined and patted dry
2 tablespoons sweet butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons red or green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoon celery, diced
1 small plum tomato, chopped
2 green onions, slivered
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (substitute Old Bay)
1/4 dry white wine
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Heat half of the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add celery, bell pepper and shallots and cook 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook without moving until lightly browned on the outside and opaque on the inside, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Remove shrimp from pan and add wine, cook and reduce until only a little liquid remains, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice and shrimp and heat through, about 2 minutes.

To serve, spoon grits into a bowl and arrange shrimp over the top.  Pour the remaining butter sauce over the top and serve with Tabasco if desired.