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 nolacuisine.com)

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.

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Crawfish Etouffee

Étouffée is a Cajun/Creole dish of crawfish, crab or shrimp smothered in a roux-thickened sauce of celery, onions and bell peppers with garlic, spices and a little sherry.  In New Orleans, étouffée is commonly served with jasmine or basmati rice..

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Crawfish Étouffée

(recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse and others)

Serves 2

1/2 stick unsalted, pastured butter
1 tablespoon organic, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped yellow onions
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 cups shrimp stock* (shrimp shells, water, celery, onion, bay, thyme, lemon)
12 oz crawfish tails
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until it begins to brown.  Add flour and whisk to combine.  Continue to cook and stir continuously until the roux takes on a dark, brown-red color.

Add the celery, onions and bell peppers (called the holy trinity of Cajun cooking) and cook for 5 minutes.

Add garlic, green onions, tomatoes, Worcestershire, bay, thyme, cayenne and cracked pepper and stir to combine.

Add shrimp stock (or water), sherry and crawfish tails, bring to a boil then reduce to low heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Add fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley, taste for salt and adjust accordingly.

Serve over rice and garnish with lemon wedges and very finely minced green onion, bell pepper, celery and parsley.  Offer Louisiana hot sauce.

* Mineral-rich shrimp is high in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, Vitamin B12 and niacin.  Use some of the shrimp stock to cook the rice; it helps to make it more digestible.

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